Urgently arting, a savage world civil.

Image: The Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1969), Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Image: Art Gallery NSW: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/, accessed: 09.10.2022.

BCM 111 Global Media & Culture Assignment 2: Annotated Bibliography. Grade: 85/100.

Title: Urgently Arting a Savage World, Civil.

The Question: Discuss four key elements to building the rudimentary foundations of a major art project, to repatriate two eucalyptus trees from the Art Gallery of New South Wales to Country.

Introduction: New Articulation of an Old Idea

The purpose of this report is to build the foundations of a complex, collaborative, multidisciplinary, repatriation art project, for my performative character, Sister GlitterNullius. It also aims to provide evidence of traditional Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies within networked activism, and decolonised audience proximity, for engaging with Indigenous creative-cultural production. In part my repatriation project will investigate and interrogate complexities for arguing that natural objects are spirit-kin and part of Indigenous cultural ontologies. Therefore the two trees, archived within the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection, should be returned to Country. Specifically, I am developing a proposal to John Kaldor’s Public Art Projects program that two eucalyptus trees cut down and wrapped by artists, Christo (b.1935 – d.2020, Bulgaria) and Jeanne Claude (b.1935 – d. 2009, Morocco), in The Wrapped Coast (1969) need to be repatriated to Country, as an act of decolonised retro-accountability (Bacon, 2019; Strang-Yettica, 2019).

This annotated bibliography will report on activism longevity and social media activism. It will also exemplify audience activation for engaging with Indigenous creative-cultural expressions, through a decolonised lens. The selection of readings will expand upon themes of proximity for developing, audience proximity to Indigenous ontologies, epistemologies and nature. To support these concepts, this report will outline one approach for understanding nature as spirit-kin within Indigeneity.

Centering Nature as Spirit-Kin in the Anthropocene: Todd, Zoe, 2015 Indigenising the Anthropocene, Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics, environments & epistemologies, ch.7, p.241-255, Open Humanities Press.

In this chapter, Zoe Todd (2015) attests that the globalised world provides networked platforms by which Indigenous people align with other First Nations cultures in challenging western notions of the human-to-nature relationship. Internet platforms such as social media, deliver Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies addressing the environmental urgency of the Anthropocene. To this end, Todd explains that, western ideological and epistemological divisions between humans and nature need to be dismantled. Furthermore, Indigenous knowledge that the land is alive with types of consciousness, must be included within our understanding of environmental urgency. This agency and consciousness in nature gives rise to acknowledging that nature therefore, also has spirit. Todd determines that, in this recognition we are obligated to understand that humans are spirit-kin with nature. Therefore it is our responsibility to align ourselves equally with the environment and provide advocacy and protection to our non-human kin. This chapter calls for Indigenising the Anthropocene and recontextualising nature to the centre of our fight against environmental demise.

Engaging with Indigenous Cultural Artistic Expression: Audience Activation to Decolonised Proximity: Schultz, Tristan B, 2013, Encountering Aboriginal Cultural Expressions: Peace, Proximity, Obligation & Responsibility, Centre for Tourism, Leisure & Work, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW,  academia.edu, accessed: 06.10.2022.

This paper obligates the audience to activate itself within proximity to Indigenous cultural ontologies and epistemologies when engaging with Indigenous cultural-creative production. It is important to approach creative work with an understanding that more complex sets of logic are present, other than western linear ways of knowing and being. In discussing this extended idea of proximity, this paper outlines the need for the audience to undertake its responsibility to educate and decolonise the lens through which they receive Indigenous creative-cultural expressions. At the risk of encountering a neo-colonial gaze, the authors advance a number of strategies for an active audience to “delink” (p.21) from the colonised frameworks of binary, oppositional definitions when engaging with Indigenous cultural expressions.

The authors argue that Indigenous cultural production, as a mediated space within contemporary culture, requires the audience to move toward a decolonised socio-political culture of proximity. Then the signification is received from the re-coded signs revealed within Indigenous creative-cultural expressions. One example of this proximity, is not a cultural proximity of sameness identification but of engaging and being for the Other. This one example allows for diversity when underpinned by an active audience approach of self-responsibility and equality when engaging with Indigenous cultural expressions.

Image: The Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1969), Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Image: Art Gallery NSW: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/, accessed: 09.10.2022.

Social Media Meets Yarning Circle Culture: Carlson, Bronwyn & Frazer, Ryan, 2018, Yarning Circles & Social media Activism, Media International Australia, Vol.169(1), p.43-53, Sage Publications, DOI:10.1177/1329878X18803762, accessed: 09.10.2022.

This article reflects upon Indigenous cultural practice of yarning and yarning circles, within the social media activism context. It reports that traditional and contemporary yarning circles serve multiple socio-cultural purposes. Yarning circles encompass oral storytelling, collective democracy, learning and problem solving with equal care. The paper explains that yarning circles ground culture and kinship ties through meeting and oral communication, simultaneously underpinning education, care, obligation and cultural practice into everyday life.

The paper outlines that yarning circles function similarly in social media activism as it does in physical environments. The authors reflect upon the role of yarning circles in activism and the online community of activist movements through the 2015 symposium Reterritorialising Social Media: Indigenous People Rise Up. They assert that yarning circles exist in social media activism and various Indigenous cultures around the world, forming  part of global Indigeneity and serving similar care and solidarity functions. The authors claim that, the practice of yarning and yarning circles online, provide a decolonised arena for political collectivity, supporting cultural, activist and ally proximity around the world. The essay states that online yarning has become an important aspect of Indigenous online creative, cultural and socio-political communications. That it contributes to the resilience of local and global activist communities, while concurrently inserting traditional practices into the networked world, an ancient mediated space operating within modern environments.

Creating Sustainability in Activism: Cineas, Fabiola, 2020, The protests feel different because they’re shifting public opinion: To sustain the current anti-racism movement, look to the past, says Professor Megan Ming Francis, blog entry, Vox Media.

This blog contribution is an interview with Professor of Political Science, Megan Ming Francis discussing elements for long term, successful activist movements. It focuses on the question, how Black Lives Matter activists can protract the velocity of the movement and encourage people to examine entrenched systemic racism. Professor Francis outlines five pivotal factors that include, public education, recognition for the mechanisms of protest, how they shift public opinion and protest beyond the streets. Also listed are the need for change within political and legal institutions as well as, developing means for maintaining protest movements. Various strategies for the sustainability of the Black Lives Matter movement, in conjunction with street protests, are drawn from strategies deployed by previous movements. Professor Francis indicates that applications such as petitions and securing court decisions, not only complement protest in shifting public opinion but infiltrate institutions embedded with systemic racism. Professor Francis also highlights another key element in protecting Black Lives Matter longevity, and that is the global, intergenerational and cross-racial alliances between its members.

Image: The Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia (1969), Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Image: Art Gallery NSW: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/, accessed: 09.10.2022.

Assessment: Spirit-kin Advocacy is Key:

Cineas (2020)  furnishes my project with strategies for shifting public opinion and achieving its longevity through education, formal processes such as court systems and building alliances across audiences, generations, cultures and disciplines. The Carlson and Frazer (2018) reading demonstrates the effective transfer and practice of yarning and yarning circles, as ancient cultural ontologies and epistemologies activated within social media activism. While Schultz (2013) comprehensively offers numerous points of entry for decolonising the audience lens and engagement with Indigenous cultural expression. The paper calls for audiences to proactively and responsibly engage with Indigenous cultural and creative expression by locating themselves within proximity of Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies as equal allies. While Zoe Todd’s chapter (2015) Indigenising the Anthropocene, describes and explains Indigenous concepts pertaining to non-human agency, spirit and kinship rights to priority advocacy and protection from and by humans. Todd (2015) articulates these principles and beliefs that are very similar to those taught to me and that motivate my undertaking a large-scale, complex, repatriation art project.

As building blocks for this repatriation project, each of these readings clearly evidence significant, active elements of Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies within the global networked world. They invite and situate allies and audiences to reposition their experiences within proximity to a more proactive and complex engagement with Indigenous cultural practices, creative expression and activism. All the essays call for decolonising institutions and ideologies that prioritise some kin above others. They all call for action against oppression, injustice and the urgent need for collaborative advocacy, protection and equality for less powerful kin. Similarly, each reading illuminates the importance of trustworthy, responsible relationships across species, cultural, geographical, political and internet borders (Carlson & Frazer, 2018; Cineas, 2020; Schultz, 2013; Todd, 2015).

In relation to the trees, archived within the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ collection, it seems logical and necessary that my art project is activated within various relational and networked environments. Equally importantly, this repatriation art project must be responsibly culturally and collaboratively informed; decolonisation, activism and advocacy simultaneously. In closing, these readings will inform the principles for my repatriation project, to return two trees out of a gallery to Country.  (Carlson & Frazer, 2018; Cineas, 2020; Schultz, 2013; Todd, 2015).

Reference List:

Bacon, Wendy, 2020, Telling the wrapped Coast Story, blog article, https://www.wendybacon.com/2020/telling-the-wrapped-coast-story, Extra! Extra!, Making Art Public, 50th Anniversary of Kaldor Art Projects, Art Gallery New South Wales, http://www.extra-extra.press/2019/11/26/telling-the-wrapped-coast-story/#more-489, accessed: 22.09.2022.

Carlson, Bronwyn & Frazer, Ryan, 2018, Yarning Circles & Social media Activism, Media International Australia, Vol.169(1), p.43-53, Sage Publications, DOI:10.1177/1329878X18803762, accessed: 09.10.2022.

Cineas, Fabiola, 2020, The protests feel different because they’re shifting public opinion: To sustain the current anti-racism movement, look to the past, says Professor Megan Ming Francis, blog entry, Vox Media, https://www.vox.com/2020/6/26/21301066/public-opinion-shift-black-lives-matter, accessed: 06.10.2022.

Schultz, Tristan B & Des, 2013, Encountering Aboriginal Cultural Expressions: Peace, Proximity, Obligation & Responsibility, Centre for Tourism, Leisure & Work, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW,  academia.edu, accessed: 06.10.2022.

Strang-Yettica, Juundaal, 2019, Trees in coffins, Extra! Extra!, Making Art Public, 50th Anniversary of Kaldor Art Projects, Art Gallery New South Wales, http://www.extra-extra.press/2019/11/19/trees-in-coffins/, accessed: 09/10/2022.

Todd, Zoe, 2015, Indigenizing the Anthropocene, Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments & Epistemologies, Ch.7, p.241-254, Davis, Heather; Turpin, Etienne (eds.), Open Humanities Press, London, United Kingdom.

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Braidotti, R, 2006, Posthuman, All Too Human: Towards a New Process Ontology, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol.23(7-8), p.197-208, DOI:10.1177/0263276406069232, accessed: 05.10.2022.

Davis, Heather & Turpin, Etienne, 2015, Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments & Epistemologies, Creative Commons, Open Universities Press, London.

Gilbert, Helen; Phillipson JD & Raheja, Michelle, (eds.), 2017, In the Balance: Indigeneity Performance & Globalisation, Liverpool University Press, United Kingdom, accessed: 05.10.2022.

Haraway, Donna, 2018, Staying with the Trouble for Multispecies Environmental Justice, Dialogues in Human Geography, Vol.8(1), p.102-105, Sage Publications, UK.

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Phipps, P, 2009, Globalisation, Indigeneity & Performing Culture, Local-Global: Identity, Security, Community, Vol.6, p.28-48, DOI: 10.3316/informit.107108986596288, accessed: 06.10.2022.

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