Petyarre and Moffat: 'Looking from the Sky'

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Linnell Secomb


Moffatt’s Up in the Sky series draws attention to the relation between sky and earth, through the content and camera angles of the images. Similarly, Kathleen Petyarre’s Central Desert acrylic dot painting evokes this relation representing country and Dreaming from a celestial perspective—as she says ‘looking from the sky’. Yet here any association between these artists seems to end with the urban artist refusing to engage Aboriginal tradition and the desert artist focused on Dreaming, country and heritage. However, a further connection between these disparate works may also be discerned as each, in differing ways, transforms our conventional perceptions of space and time. Reading these images in relation to Walter Benjamin’s concepts of the auratic and of messianic time, I suggest that each restructures dimension and duration putting in question the (post)modern calibrations of our space/time experience. This paper stages an engagement between these artists’ works and Benjamin’s concepts exploring the variations and modifications of the spatial and the temporal that hybrid cross-cultural exchanges require and facilitate.

Article Details

Indigenous Art (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Linnell Secomb, University of Sydney

LINNELL SECOMB teaches in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on social philosophy, and on politics and ethics within poststructural frameworks. She is currently completing a book on philosophy and love to be published by Edinburgh University Press.