Places Past Disappearance
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by R Gibson
In this address, I think out loud about the work we need to do with history in order to understand better how to live well in the present and future. I call this process “vestige work”. Rummaging in Australia’s aftermath cultures, I try to re-dress the disintegration in our story-systems, in our traditional knowledge caches, our landscapes and ecologies. My job is to investigate and recuperate scenes and collections of artifacts that have been torn apart somehow, torn by landgrabbing, let’s say, or by accidents, or exploitation that ignores rituals of preservation and restoration. Typically, the scenes and systems I investigate were once a good deal more coherent, but now they are ailing or out of balance. I’ve come to understand that most of Australia is like this, that the place we inhabit is our best evidence about our unbalanced selves and that this place has so much raggedness in it because it is patterned to the society that has used it so roughly.