Destruction of Ancestral Icons

The art of the hunter-gatherers, Australian Aborigines, since the early Seventies, has been disseminated, not solely from an anthropological point of view, but through its commercialization; thus disrupting the revelatory paradigm of concealment inherent to its culture.  As such the iconography from their rituals and bodily expressions of temporary characteristics, as well as from impermanent sand drawings—derived from communions with nature– has been translated onto a new protocol of objectification destined to paintings on boards or permanent murals on metal laminates, with the expressed intend to bridge the curiosity of an external audience: a process, which breaches confidentiality through its commodification as art objects.

With a few exceptions, admittedly welcomed by its naive producers, the secrecy of ancestral iconography has been transferred into precious objects of acrylic paintings inevitably to be transgressed and purveyed among Western collectors and their publications; thus introducing a not-so-unexpected consequence for a dilemma. We refer to a dilemma that erodes the indigenous protocols of initiation, as the narrative of their imagery requires viewing and understanding of themselves. Evidently, it is not sufficient to isolate the undesirable Western dissemination from the eyes of the aborigines in the confluence of a global community.

It is no longer possible to maintain the initiation rituals part of the cycle of their communal tribal powers while their objectified iconography becomes appropriated, or rather trapped between pecuniary bemusement and the attraction of a strange collector. In the effort to appropriate with the merits supposedly derived from admiration, an ancestral culture is corrupted with an external force that cements its adverse influence and dominance over their native communities rather than a mere preservation of the indigenous cultural acquis.

A disruptive influence is imposed onto the fragile ecological balance of these cultures by the colonizing destructive powers brought forth by researchers and their acolytes, anthropologists and their funding institutions, collectors and their propagandist entourages, as well as insensitive local governments who are so hungry for international attention, perhaps in a misunderstood concept of atonement for their colonizing powers.

RM

Sept 20, 2009

One Response to “Destruction of Ancestral Icons”

  1. Ricardo Morin Says:

    In response to a Wall Street Journal article entitled “From a Primitive Present” by Melik Kaylan; page 07, October 21, 2009

    “From a Primitive Present”

    Its very byline manifests the grotesque sense with which Mr. Kaylan endows the aboriginal cultures of Papunya. Mr. Kaylan explains that “we are [he means himself alone, though he intends to differentiate from other opinions], after all, looking back at our species in a more primitive state.” This reflects how he differentiates with a divisive sense that no apology can emend, defining our progressive present as a superior one.
    Shortsighted as this may be, Mr. Kaylan resorts to compare us [himself] with others whom he defines as “strict multiculturalists” who seek an impossible equality. Never mind that he accuses these “strict multiculturalists” of being biased towards their own subcultures, a sort of reasoning that escapes his own narrative. The question remains: what is he talking about? What equality? Is it the fact that they are not the same as us: the collective conscious of a highly developed culture? Of course not, why would anyone want them to be equal to us when in fact “we” have so very little to be proud about: “we” after several millennia are still stagnant in rivalries of a different sort. All one has to do is look around to decipher how irrational our own so-called-developed-culture is at present time. Undoubtedly, extensive research on his failed dialectics and a bit more humility would improve Mr Kaylan’s analysis.

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