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Indigenous Australia

According to Morphy, how are we to understand the role of Aboriginal art in structuring the relations between Aborigines and outsiders, especially Europeans – that is, in establishing the relationships between Aborigines and outsiders. In what parts of Australia, in what traditions, does he make this case? Explain. Do the examples resemble each other? How or how not?

The oldest form of art is known to have its roots in Australia thousands of years ago. Aboriginal art was carved in rocks and bark of trees with evidence seen to date in the museums and national parks. It is related to three major styles as the oldest continuing art tradition in the world which includes geometric, sophisticated and straightforward figurative forms (Morphy 42). The paintings mostly appeared in natural colors but are continued in modern art materials. The variety and quality of artwork made in the current era are an accurate representation of the diversity of people within their culture (Morphy 39). It gives so much life and meaning to the environment and appears to reflect the richness of the land.

Though with some similarities, the people in Aboriginal Australia have an array of differences within their cultural practices, geographic landscapes, and language. Art has been like their life in bringing together the values of the past to the present, connecting people and land they live by explaining the supernatural with the existing reality. It became a common knowledge throughout the world due to the era of European colonialism with the last 200 years of history having a great impact on the Aboriginal society (Morphy 145). Morphy Howard helps us to understand the more about the Aboriginal artwork within the Australian community with a yearning to know more the connection of that work, culture and different societies in the contemporary world.

In his writings, Morphy talks about an understanding of art that will give us a better knowledge of the then situations. He shows the relations between different societies and influences of art on them in a variety of ways (Morphy 38).  In giving his voice, he says

To understand the trajectory of Indigenous Australian art, it is important to consider the kind of thing art is to the producing societies and how that influences the relationships that Indigenous Australians see between artworks and the conclusions that they draw from those relationships. By making Indigenous art discourse part of the data of art history and critically examining the ontological concepts and their relationship to practice, we should become aware of conceptual similarities and differences between different traditions. And in the case of various art traditions that occupy the same temporal space we should be able to understand better how they articulate with one another–in the case of Aboriginal art, how Indigenous artists embrace contemporary Australian art worlds (p. 145).

Morphy relates cross-culture in Australia to the legacy of the colonial era, land, and controversies that emerge around the presentation of indigenous art. He gives us a background in understanding the role of Aboriginal art in structuring the relationship between Aborigines and outsiders (Morphy 44). He provides an opportunity to interact with the context of artistic tradition through culture displayed in work of art. Indigenous art shows a connection with the history events of colonization which according to Morphy enabled men continually interact with the spiritual dimension of existence. The art is essential in keeping the past alive and still being relevant in the present world.

There is an association between Australia and the rest of the world that has remained both physically and through the work of art.  The Aborigines were divided into groups and lived in different part within Australia, but the colonial history added much to the disparity within regions through their styles of art (Campbell 95). Different kinds of art are represented in a way that shows the relationship between them another people. For instance, the creation of the artwork, “Aboriginal Embassy” as described by Robert Campbell in his work shows Aborigines fighting against White men (Campbell 97). They fight for the rights of their land which is the point of conflict between them and colonists. He also shows conflict through the art, the death of custody through a representation of contemporary issue faced by the politics of Aborigines. They became the most segregated segment of the Australian population (Cunneen 120). Similarly, Morphy indicates that opposition between Europeans and the isolated community was reinforced by battles over public places, ethnic and indigenous politics through the desire to be on the factual side of the post-colonial divide.

The Europeans viewed Aboriginal art as primitive compared to their own and did not consider it a significant part of the market.  They failed to recognize its impact on the society since they did not value the people who produced it. They failed to dynamism held by this form of culture and its influence on the history of Australia as much as it impacted on its change (Cunneen 155). The art had started losing its value through the colonial period with the illusion by the outsiders that it had its place in the past that was detached from contemporary life.  It was simply seen as a facet that was invisible to most White Australians until it gained acceptance in the mid-twentieth century. Howard, however, indicates that Aborigines in the southeast Australia did not give up on making art even though the tourists negatively saw it as a contaminated form of primitive art (Cunneen 131). On the other hand, there was acceptance of the contemporary western art while that of Aborigines represented a form of their assimilation.

The emergence of contemporary Aboriginal art led to a better connection between them and the Europeans. In the 1980’s there was a development in the form of art that ascertained the Aboriginality of the people. The Aboriginal populations in the southeast Australia confidently developed art since their skills were not only from the remote bush as in the past but the art school of urban Australia hence the acceptability (Morphy 37). The work of individuals is allocated to a single art-historical space without recognizing boundaries between different categories. McCulloch, in her writing, divides the work of Aboriginal arts into various categories by locating them with their respective geographic area. She shows that the Aborigines work of art emerges from their profound connection with the land and no effort of the Europeans would thwart their inner desires to paint.

These indigenous people of Australia use their art to communicate their history and their physical place. Their use some of the work as an evidence of their legal ownership of specific territories within Australia as they fought against colonist (Morphy 142). It is through the profound relationship between art and land that they succeeded politically in their ongoing struggle for their indigenous rights from the whites. Their contact with European people made them be driven out of their ancestral land by force through the colonial period.  The difference in colonial history is brought out in the work of art through beautiful Land bark paintings (Cunneen 152). There are social and historical factors that impact each region differently with an art of work that connects the aboriginals to the Europeans and other outsiders.

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