Possessions by Nicholas Thomas


ISBN
9780500296592
Published
Binding
Hardcover
Pages
320
Dimensions
153 x 234mm

A timely re-examination of European engagements with indigenous art and the presence of indigenous art in the contemporary art world.

The arts of Africa, Oceania and native America famously inspired twentieth-century modernist artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Ernst. The politics of such stimulus, however, have long been highly contentious: was this a cross-cultural discovery to be celebrated, or just one more example of Western colonial appropriation?

This revelatory book explores cross-cultural art through the lens of settler societies such as Australia and New Zealand, where Europeans made new nations, displacing and outnumbering but never eclipsing native peoples. In this dynamic of dispossession and resistance, visual art has loomed large. Settler artists and designers drew upon Indigenous motifs and styles in their search for distinctive identities. Yet powerful Indigenous art traditions have asserted the presence of First Nations peoples and their claims to place, history and sovereignty. Cultural exchange has been a two-way process, and an unpredictable one: contemporary Indigenous art draws on global contemporary practice, but moves beyond a bland affirmation of hybrid identities to insist on the enduring values and attachment to place of Indigenous peoples.
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