Traditional and postmodern indigenous art practice
Explain how traditional indigenous art reflects a spiritual connection to the land. Why is this important? (Cultural Frame). Select an artwork by this artist, examine the signs and symbols used-what do they mean? (Structural Frame)
Land means different things to non-indigenous and Aboriginal people. Non-Indigenous people and landowners might consider land as something they own, a commodity to be bought and sold. For Aboriginal people their relationship with the land is much deeper. The land owns Aboriginal people and every aspect of their lives are connected to it. Art is a way of expressing this important connection. Aboriginal people connect past and present, through their relationship with the land. Many Aboriginal artworks tell about the connection between people and their land such as “Djan’kawucreation story’. In this way studying their art helps us understand their cultural identity. Their spirituality, their family and their needs which are supplied by the land.
“Djan’kawu creation story’ artwork
“Djan’kawu creation story’ artwork
Needless to say the Art they paint has signs and symbols each with its own meaning, relating to the land. Like European art, Aboriginal art represents and symbolizes the world and the beliefs of its people, however, their art goes farther in depth and meaning. Aboriginal Art is an integral part of traditional life, and occurs as body decoration in ceremonies, on bark and rock walls, on trees, carved rocks, weapons, utensils, and sacred objects. This is because the art is inspired from Religious and ceremonial aspects of life. This is important to recognize as we know we can learn from the artworks about their cultural aspects. Traditional Aboriginal art represents the Dreaming and the fact that all of their choices relate to their beliefs and connection to the land.
Traditional Aboriginal societies vary greatly across Australia but all have social structures and systems that organize life and experience and explain the universe and the place of people in it. Art is part of these systems and the making of artworks by Aboriginal artists is almost always connected to Dreaming stories. The ownership of Dreaming stories is based on family hierarchy and the art produced must follow these structures. But this does not mean that artists are rigidly bound by convention in their expressions of these stories - as the contemporary Aboriginal art shows. Often mapped in traditional artworks, are certain sacred places. By an individual Aboriginal or a territorial group, these places would have make up part of the spiritual connection with the land. In addition Indigenous Australians would also exhibit spiritual connections in their art by recording the passing of elders. Which they believed that they could contact the spirits, therefore had a spiritual connection. One such example of a traditional artist is the brother of the famous Tim Leura Tjapiljarri, Clifford Possum Tjapiljarri, both artists are part of the Postmodern movement, facilitated in Papumya in the 1970s. One of his painiting titled “Wargugalong”. Portrayed in this artwork are elements of nine distinct dreamings, of which Lungkata's tale is just the central motif. Lungkata was the Blue-Tongue Lizard Man, an ancestral figure responsible for creating the first bushfire. The painting portrays the results of a fire, caused by Lungkata to punish his two sons who did not share with their father the kangaroo they had caught. The sons' skeletons are on the right hand side of the image, shown against a background representing smoke and ashes. Around this central motif are arranged elements of eight other stories: These Dreamings include a group of women from Aileron dancing across...
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