The Australian Animal Studies Group (AASG) are holding their 4th Biennial AASG Conference in 2011: Animals, People – a Shared Environment. Its purpose is to “bring together animal theorists and scientists from a broad range of academic disciplines with representatives from non-government organizations, government officials from several nations and representatives from industry, to examine the interrelationships between human and nonhuman animals from cultural, historical, geographical, environmental, representational, moral, legal and political perspectives.” It is held in conjunction with the Environmental Futures Centre at Griffith University, Brisbane. I am looking forward to presenting at the conference in July. I submitted the following abstract:
Animals in Australian Painting explored through practice-led research
This paper examines how practice-led research in painting can enable an experiential understanding of a subject. In this case the subject is the relationship between human and non-human animals in Australia as expressed in painting. Distinct cultural perspectives impact on the levels of involvement between painter and subject, while approaches are informed by individual experience. Therefore my research becomes equally involved in particular intercultural realities in Australia; specifically fusions between Aboriginal and European culture and the intercultural phenomena that constitutes my own identity. Through examining material experiments in my own painting process and the painting traditions of Kunwinjku speakers from Western Arnhem Land, I discuss some current interrelations between human and non-human animals in Australia informed as it is by colonial and Aboriginal history. The theme of the conference ‘Animals, People – a Shared Environment’ can translate within arts practice through the use of materials animals also access or embody. This is a cultural activity that activates awareness of living in an environment shared with animals. Like the foundational practices of hunting and collecting to provide food and shelter shared by human and non-human animals, its practice has been severely reduced and altered by Industrial Capitalism. The impact of Industrial Capitalism on what constitutes this ‘Shared Environment’ is a given in the context of this paper, and emerges through practice despite my efforts to counter its cultural impact.