The Archive and the Contact Zone. The Story of Stan Loycurrie and Jack Noorywauka, Performers

Publisher:
University of Queensland Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Australian Studies, 2014, 38 (3), pp. 314 - 330
Issue Date:
2014-01
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Indigenous participation in nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century exhibitions and fairs has been often read and represented in terms of captivity narratives. According to this template, Indigenous people were displaced and coerced to perform. While this might have been the case in many instances, this article considers a set of performances that took place as part of the exhibition, Australian Aboriginal Art, at the (then) National Museum of Victoria in Melbourne in 1929 as contact zones and moments of transculturation. It does so by reading the archive of letters and newspaper cuttings against the grain, paying attention to the tone, moods, inflections, silences in between the lines, humorous anecdotes, and hyperbole, as a reversal of the official narratives chronicled by words. I dont claim to offer any specific answer on why Stan Loycurrie and Jack Noorywauka, the performers, decided to go to Melbourne, or on the kind of discussions that might have preceded the trip. Instead, I want to use the archive to build a scenario where Loycurrie and Noorywauka used the space and time of the exhibition as a moment of exchange, negotiation, and self-representation.
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