I Love A Sunburnt Anomaly: The Polarisation Of The Australian National Identity.

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Georgia Vidler


This article will argue that Janet Laurence’s and Fiona Foley’s ‘Edge of the Trees’, a permanent installation at the entrance to the Museum of Sydney, is an allegorical microcosm of non-Aboriginal Australia’s and, in some ways, Aboriginal Australia’s current perception of its Aboriginal history and its place in a national identity. This article will examine the role of the ‘Aboriginal Memorial’ and contemporary Aboriginal art, in particular that of Laurence and Foley, in relation to traditional and modernist ideologies. The work will be exposed as an expression of modernist and colonialist ideas, rather than the traditional memorial and somewhat all-inclusive postmodern perspective that is implied and perhaps intended. The argument will expose the ambiguity within the concepts of traditionalism and modernity and will ultimately deduce that for two nations to survive distinctively, in close proximity to each other, they must maintain difference, even though that means never reaching complete acceptance or forgiveness. Australian society, much like the ‘Edge of the Tress’ installation, will forever oscillate between binding and separation, between “us” and “them”.

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