On the Utopianism of Painting from Remote Communities

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Some of the first Europeans in Australia speculated that the centre of thecontinent hid an inland sea surrounded by well-watered plains. In the latetwentieth century, this utopian imagination transferred from an imagination ofwater to one associated with Indigenous Australians. In an era of global culturaltraffic, the painting movement from remote Australia constitutes a utopiancommunication that wants to bring about better relations between Indigenouspeople and the rest of the world. Despite the many dystopian images ofIndigenous communities and the Aboriginal art industry presented by scholarsand media alike, here I want to argue that this painting is itself a utopiancommunication. It is, first, associated with Indigenous communities whose valuesare contrary to those of Australian capitalism. Historically, utopian fiction andutopian theory has been critical of capitalism. Painting from remote communitiescontinues this utopian tradition, as it represents an alternative way of life. Second,the very act of painting is itself utopian, its communication between culturesstaging a means for greater understanding. The Indigenous intervention, then, isone that is both critical of Western society and hopeful for better culturalrelations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-205
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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