Shifting cartographies of the South in Austral/Asian art exchanges

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2007
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This thesis is concerned with how the geo-body of 'Australia' as a historically and geographically fraught site is reconfigured by the flow and circulation of artists, artworks and ideas about art in an increasingly transnational cosmopolitan and globalised world. It argues that Australia - as a site of artistic production, exchange and exhibition - can be productively understood through the critical and geographical trope of the 'South'. As both a mode of location and an epistemic category, the trope of the South offers a useful way for thinking about and understanding Australia's postcolonial predicament and its anxious experience of antipodality and decentredness. Located within a transnational and relational frame, the trope of the South challenges the notion of Australia as distinct, self-enclosed entity that is fundamentally separate from Asia, while marking the possibility of an alternative cartography of the nation, one that is attuned to its interruptions and displacements, its complex and multiple histories, spatialities and trajectories. Through a discussion of various forms artistic contact and interaction between Australia and Asia - such as the presence, work and curatorial framing of the variously constituted 'Asian' artistic diasporas in Australia, the curatorial positioning of the Asia-Pacific Triennial, and the past and present debates about provincialism in Australian art history - this thesis foregrounds Australia's paradoxical geographical location in the space of the South, drawing attention to the way it arises from Australia's simultaneous relations of proximity and distance to both 'the West' and 'Asia'. The central argument of the thesis is that this complex and paradoxical location constitutes the particular historical and geo-cultural condition under which the artistic interface between 'Australia' and 'Asia' is staged and negotiated.
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