Materiality, Language and the Production of Knowledge: Art, Subjectivity and Indigenous Ontology

Estelle Barrett


Since all theories of knowing deal with the being of subjects, objects, instruments and environments, they can be viewed as onto-epistemological.  This chapter examines key ideas that emerge from the work of Julia Kristeva – 'the speaking subject', 'materiality of language' and 'heterogeneity' – to demonstrate how ontology and epistemology are inextricably entwined in knowledge production. Kristeva also affirms both the agency of matter and  the dimension of human/subjective agency implicated in cultural production. This is contrasted with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s account creative practice. The article also draws on the artistic work of researcher-practitioner Brian Martin, and his account of the relationship between Indigenous Australian art and culture to demonstrate that in an Indigenous world view, the real, the immaterial, the imaginary and the representational occur concurrently.

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