Flags and Landscapes: Border art from the Australian goldfields

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In 1993, eighty-five paintings from the Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie, executed with cheap paints on cardboard and canvas board, were exhibited in San Diego by the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronteriza (BAW/TAF). By the 1990s, the BAW/TAF was well known for making border art, a term that described art about living on the borderlands of Mexico and the United States. This exhibition of art by the so-called ‘fringe dwellers’ of Australia, Aboriginal people who were living poor on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie, suggests that like border theory, border art is a concept relevant outside North America, and that borders are not only constructed between countries, but within them. In Australia there is an infra-national border between Indigenous and settler populations, between races, and this border is inscribed in these paintings. For these artists of Kalgoorlie chose above all to paint Aboriginal flags and landscapes, envisaging their sovereignty and land rights within the Australian nation-state. The paintings also testify to the cosmopolitan, inter-Aboriginal society on the fringes of Kalgoorlie, as desert people mix with local Wongathi and Noognar and Yamatji to the east. Kalgoorlie is not only a frontier town hosting settler and Indigenous populations, but an Aboriginal diaspora that has become unsettled since colonisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)207-224
Number of pages18
JournalWorld Art
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2018


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