Thursday, 29 January 2009

Event Name: RHSV Lecture - History can be hidden, forgotten, resisted. It is a site of both remembrance & forgetfulness.

 Price: Free (members) $5.50 (non members)
Time: 5.15 (tea & coffee) 5.45 Lecture
Date: 10 February 2009

Address: Royal Historical Society of Victoria,
239 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne
Phone: 93269288

Institutional archives are the storehouses for salvaged
fragments of the colonial past and provide the material
from which history is written. The document, the text
and more recently the image - particularly the photographic
image - enable new perspectives to be given as well as the
retrieval of pasts that may have been forgotten or omitted
from dominant narratives. While traditionally the preserve of
the historian or the researcher, in recent years a growing
number of artists have been lured to the archive attracted by
its potential to trouble the knowledges and understandings
that continue to circulate in wider Australia today.

The experience of colonialism and government assimilation
policies for many Aboriginal Australians was underpinned by
intrusive, sometimes punitive measures, aimed at eradicating
Indigenous cultural traditions understood by many Europeans as
primitive and out of place in the burgeoning modernity of the
new nation. This severed an ongoing relationship with culture
for many Aboriginal Australians, indelibly altering the nature
of that connection for others. Remnants of the past,preserved
in the form of photographs, documents and material culture,
locked away in archives and museum collections, are now being
used to facilitate a reengagement with culture by artists and
other community members. Thus collecting institutions,
can be both a site of loss and a 'treasure box' to be mined
- inherently ambivalentspaces for many First Australians today.

In this lecture Wendy will discuss the photographic work of a
number of artists who re-use archival photographs to bring to
light new perspectives and little known
histories about Victoria's Indigenous pasts.

Wendy Garden is a doctoral candidate at the University of
Melbourne in the School of Historical Studies. In 2004 she
completed a Masters of Arts which focused on photographs of
Indian elites and British colonials during the high imperialist
period of the British Raj. Her current project entitled
Re-membering the archive:nineteenth century photography and
contemporary practice analyses recent work by a number of
Australian artists who engage with the photographic archive
to interrogate settler representations of Aboriginality.

In addition to research in Australian archives Wendy has
carried out research in a variety of photographic archives
in India and the United Kingdom including the Maharaja Sawai
Man Singh 11 Museum in Jaipur and more recently the Pitts Rivers
Museum, University of Oxford and the Museum of Archaeology
and Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Wendy Garden was Curator at the Royal Historical Society
of Victoria, 1999-2003 and has been the Art Curator for
Banyule City Council since 2002