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ItemAustralian animal painting and the human-animal bond in artKovacic, Katherine Vanessa ( 2014)Animal painting is a critically important part of Australian art history, yet it has been afforded scant–if any–scholarly attention. Additionally, as the genre reached an apotheosis in the nineteenth century, animal painting represents a window into Australian society during a phase of rapid development. Domestic animals were a key part of society during this period, as cherished companions and as a driving force behind the expansion of Australian agricultural interests. This thesis begins the task of establishing animal painting within the annals of Australia’s art history. Commencing with an overview of animal painting in different cultures since the birth of art, the thesis then moves to consider the human-animal bond and its impact on the visual representation of animals. The human connection with other species has been represented artistically from Palaeolithic times to the present, yet the portrayal of animals in art is often dismissed as symbolic. By examining the science of the human-animal bond, the thesis explores why humans like to create and look at images of animals. It postulates that a connection with animals affects the way people view paintings when animals are part of the picture. In the same way, artists who specialise in animal painting not only exhibit a strong affinity with animals, they are able to capture the sentience and intelligence of their non-human subjects with greater veracity. Turning to Australian art of the nineteenth century, discussion focusses on the role of domestic animals in colonial society and on the artistic legacy of animal painters. Several artists are singled out for closer scrutiny, in particular, Harold Septimus Power. Septimus Power can be considered an archetypal animal painter: he evinced a strong connection with animals, was highly successful throughout his career and is largely overlooked and underrated since his demise. The intensity of the bond shared between mounted soldiers and their horses was played out in paintings portraying the Australian Light Horse in action during World War I. That Australian animal painters were on the spot to record these events meant their art contributed significantly to the horse-soldier bond forever being entwined with the legend of Anzac. By confirming the importance of animal painting in Australian art, this thesis suggests new avenues of research, both in regard to art and to the human-animal bond. Further exploration of the way animals have been represented in the art of different cultures, and into the significance of the animal gaze in art are just two of the ways in which the study of animal painting can facilitate greater understanding of the role animals play in human life.
ItemAustralian Aboriginal art in the United States of America, 1941-1966RANDOLPH, KIRA ( 2014)The United States has been collecting and exhibiting Australian Aboriginal art since the Great American Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. Collections from Port Jackson gathered during this expedition were displayed in the Washington DC Patent Office until 1851. Such early collecting and display is rarely noted or discussed in the literature on the history of Australian Aboriginal art and its exhibition. This dissertation seeks to redress this oversight through the story of Australian Aboriginal art in the United States as told by case studies. The primary topic of this dissertation is exhibitions; however, other events that raised American awareness of this topic will also be evaluated. This is a piece of historical research informed by interdisciplinary scholarship on Aboriginal art. In writing about the representation of Aboriginal culture, I propose that it is not sufficient to identify what and where exhibitions occurred, the historic backdrop, politics, and people involved, also require consideration. Through a close reading of archival material, the chapter structure reflects four narrative themes emergent from analysis of exhibitions and events as case studies. These themes are: Aboriginal art as historic Australian art, as cultural, Stone Age, and fine art. The following research questions guide this study: what were the major representations of Australian Aboriginal art and culture in the United States? What informed the narratives of these events? Lastly, what parties were involved in the organisation of these cross-cultural displays and what impact did this have? This thesis argues that investigation into the geographic reception of Australian Aboriginal art in America provides evidence of its shifting conception and value. This has significant impact given recent statements that it was the American reception of Aboriginal Art that facilitated its acceptance as high art in Australia. Case studies include: Art of Australia, 1788-1941 (1941), a touring exhibition that began at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, funded by the Carnegie Corporation and guest curated by Theodore Sizer; and Arts of the South Seas (1946), organised by Rene d’Harnoncourt that showed at the Museum of Modern Art. Also considered are the promotional efforts of anthropologist Charles Pearcy Mountford and his cross-country “Australia’s Stone Age Men” lecture tour that eventuated in the American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land (1948). In 1966 three separate exhibitions showed in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Kansas. Edward Lehman Ruhe who was a major but largely unknown Aboriginal art aficionado is discussed for his pioneering efforts exhibiting Aboriginal art from his private collection from 1966-1977. The findings of this thesis suggest that Americans conceived and represented Aboriginal material as a form of art in the 1940s and 1950s, before Australia. Case study analysis also evidences that the exhibition of Aboriginal art was used for cultural diplomacy between Australian and the United States in the years surrounding World War II. Finally, certain individuals were particularly influential in realising exhibitions of Aboriginal art, and their legacies laid the foundation for displays today.
Item'Parafeminism' and parody in contemporary artCastagnini, Laura ( 2014)Humour is a pleasurable and productive strategy for feminist artists; however, its role within feminist practice has received limited scholarly attention in the last two decades. The most recent study on the role of humour in feminist art is Jo Anna Isaak’s book Feminism and Contemporary Art: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Laughter (1996, Routledge), which frames feminist subversive laughter through the carnivalesque. Arguing that Isaak’s theory does not account for subsequent paradigm shifts in practice and ideology, this thesis aims to develop a conceptual framework that can explicate the forms and effects of humour currently emerging in contemporary feminist art. To develop this conceptual framework I draw upon art theorist Amelia Jones’ concept of ‘parafeminism,’ which suggests that contemporary feminist art is engaging in a revision of second wave methodologies: assessing and building upon earlier strategies by rejecting coalitional identity politics and reworking feminist visual politics of ‘the gaze.’ I interpret Jones’ theory by returning to Linda Hutcheon’s notion of parody, in order to frame three significant shifts in feminist practice: intimate corporeal preoccupations, phallocentric modes of spectatorship, and historical re-appropriation. To give focus to the influence of these changes in artists’ practice over the last three decades, I apply my framework of parafeminist parody to two major Euro-American case studies: an early Pipilotti Rist video, entitled Pickelporno (1992), and a more recent example, Mika Rottenberg’s video installation Mary’s Cherries (2004), as well as to a selection of works that traverse both video and performative modes of practice by three Australian artists (and collectives): Brown Council, Catherine Bell and the Hotham Street Ladies. Drawing upon writings from Freud, affect theory and corporeal semiotics, I extend Jones’ theory to this wider range of artworks thereby identifying ‘parafeminism’ as a greater phenomenon than previously proposed. To summarise, I aim to identify and develop a theoretical approach that will enable deeper understanding of humorous elements in contemporary feminist art.