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The Fen: A discursive, abject, postproduction story space AAANZ: Geocritical conference

Version 2 2022-11-23, 04:31
Version 1 2019-03-28, 00:00
posted on 2022-11-23, 04:31 authored by Meredith Randell
On the topic 'Art and the natural world: ‘making spaces that see’' my paper will detail the conception of spaces or landscapes that consume, breathe and reproduce - visually and audibly - so that these typically hidden botanical events can be experienced as a story space entitled 'The Fen'. The aim of the 'The Fen' project was to create a ‘story space’ that cultivates and challenges enduring dominant non-indigenous cinematic myths about the Australian landscape by using perverse and abject (Kristeva, 1982) audio-visual strategies. The non-indigenous cinematic myths of the Australian landscape are introduced through a contextual discussion based on theories from Australian writers Ross Gibson, Robin Wright and Kirsty Duncanson about the landscapes presented in Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir 1975), The Man from Snowy River (Miller 1982) and Lantana (Lawrence 2001). This discussion is further contextualised through a discussion of the representation of landscape in cinematic myth, Mister Chuck by Tracey Moffatt (beDevil 1993). Concepts of identity from Australian anthropologist Nicholas Smith, and personal reflections from Australian settler writer Marcus Clarke are also presented as part of this contextual discussion. Following this, I elaborate on theories offered by Australian writers Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs that draw on French psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva’s theories on abjection to unpack non-indigenous Australians’ largely unconsummated desire to understand and unite with an intolerant and sometimes vengeful landscape. Metaphorically, abjection describes anything that is cast-off or excluded from the dominant social norms, and can include people, objects, spaces, motion and stories. Cast-offs represent the binary opposite of what is accepted by the dominant social norms, such as right and wrong, life and death, or “human and non-human” (Creed 1993, 8). This project sought to challenge and update dominant social norms by creating a physical lived story space based on Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa’s (2006) concept of the lived cinematic image as ‘lived space’. Located in a gallery, the story space I created consists of audio-visual artworks that present an abject interpretation of trees that inhabit under-represented swamp and native forest landscapes located in Moreton Bay (Queensland) and Byron Bay (New South Wales).




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University of Tasmania (Tasmanian College of the Arts and the School of Architecture and Design) and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery


Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ)

Place of Publication

Launceston, Tasmania

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Era Eligible

  • No

Name of Conference

Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. Annual Conference