Gazing Boldly Back and Forward

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  • Title: Gazing Boldly Back and Forward: Urban Aboriginal Women Artists and New Global Feminisms in Transnational Art
  • Author(s): Ruth Skilbeck
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Australian Contemporary Women Artists, Urban Aboriginal Australian Artists, Indigenous Art, Global Feminisms, Fugal Writing
  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 6
  • Year: 2011
  • ISSN: 1833-1866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5809 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v05i06/35942
  • Citation: Skilbeck, Ruth . 2011. "Gazing Boldly Back and Forward: Urban Aboriginal Women Artists and New Global Feminisms in Transnational Art." The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review 5 (6): 261-276. doi:10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v05i06/35942.
  • Extent: 16 pages

Abstract

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian women contemporary artists made an important contribution to the foundational impacts and ongoing significance of feminism and the 1970s Women’s Art Movement on all that has followed in international contemporary art. Whereas distance from Euro-centric culture was once lamented by Australian settlers as a tyranny, critical distance from colonial power discourses has functioned as a strength for women artists who use their art to gaze back not only at colonial oppression of Indigeneity, but also at western art’s historical hegemonic male representation of women in the public cultural domain. Women artists do this by representing themselves. Fiona Foley, one of Australia’s foremost artists and a curator, academic and writer, has since the 1980s in her art confronted political issues of Indigeneity and identity as a woman in a cultural history of trauma and dispossession- bearing witness to her cultural heritage as a descendent of the Badtjala people, who were forcibly removed from K’gari or Thoorgine (Fraser Island) in the early twentieth century. The paper applies an innovative multimodal fugal critical analysis – drawing on psychological and musical meanings of fugue – to discuss Foley’s work; the paper draws on an interview the author conducted with Fiona Foley at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, including photographs of the artist and images of her work. The analysis focuses on Foley’s site specific installation at Cockatoo Island at the Sydney Biennale 2010, and her recent survey show at the MCA.