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dc.contributor.authorVeit, Hartmut
dc.date.accessioned2018-01-09T03:21:29Z
dc.date.available2018-01-09T03:21:29Z
dc.date.issued2017en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/11343/197690
dc.description© 2017 Hartmut Veit
dc.description.abstract“Material Matters at the Coalface” questions our human relationships with geological matter through a socially-engaged art enquiry into the politics of coal, space and place. Activating coal as “vibrant matter”, this project works with brown coal as a medium to investigate the role that coal plays in Latrobe Valley mining communities. This project combined socially-engaged, participatory practice and practice-led artistic research with an ethnographic sensibility to investigate the community’s response to living in, and among coal. It aimed to create dialogue and better understand the complex web of changes affecting communities, who are in transition and impacted by the closure of coal-fired power stations and sweeping changes in power generation. The research findings are presented through a written dissertation and durable records of the “COAL” graduate exhibition, which was staged at the VCA Art Space in Melbourne in February 2017. Unearthing coal’s performative material qualities, this exhibition put the gritty materiality of locally collected brown coal to work as an aesthetic medium in a series of visual artworks, performances and installations encompassing three interconnected galleries and 210sm2 of space. Questioning the physical, psychic and social relationships humans have with non-human matter coal, the “COAL” exhibition also included documentation of performative acts of labour, such as sweeping and cleaning, which were originally performed in public spaces, neglected historical buildings and empty deserted shops in Morwell. The resultant body of artefacts, performances and installations reflect a sustained material engagement with brown coal and socially-engaged arts practice with Latrobe Valley communities over the last three years. The creative works are analysed and contextualised by drawing on a lineage of artists, writers and philosophers from the intersecting fields of social practice, art and anthropology, who have explored the political ecology of geological matter and the environment. This investigation of coal’s role in the local community of Morwell demonstrates the increasing ecological impact of human beings’ commodified relationships to nature, place and matter. Departing from these site-responsive concerns and the context of peri-urban Victoria, coal’s political ecology acts as a microcosm, an allegory and visual metaphor for much larger political and cultural situations. Moving beyond the impact of globalisation on local conditions, the project scrutinises deeply entrenched thinking, which “places man-as-subject at the centre of all relations.”1 The research adopts a New Materialist lens to frame the project and foreground the agency of matter to questions such pre-conceived human-centric biases. As a heterogeneous, emerging cultural theory, New Materialism pays renewed attention to the central importance of matter in cultural discourse as a pathway to re-orientate human beings’ relationality with the material world. Responding to, and building on existing scholarship, debates and critiques of New Materialism, this research challenges binary perceptions, that coal is an inert resource to demonstrate coal’s vibrancy as an active agent in shaping experience and discourse. Contesting anthropocentric definitions of temporality, performance and authorship this research endeavours to act as a cultural agent of change and assist the local community to make the long-term transition to a sustainable local economy and cleaner energy future that better supports jobs, communities and their long-term health. The complex web of changes facing coal and communities in the Latrobe Valley are brought to the attention of a wider audience through art. The project was driven by a sense of optimism, that contemporary art and culture can create genuine dialogue, engagement and common ground between opposing and polarized views regarding climate change, so that communities can work together and re-orientate currently destructive social relationality with coal, to globally make the vital transition to renewable energy sources. 1 Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt, Carnal Knowledge: Towards A'new Materialism'through the Arts (Ib tauris, 2013).1zen_US
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dc.subjectnew Materialismen_US
dc.subjectagencyen_US
dc.subjectcoalen_US
dc.subjectAnthropoceneen_US
dc.subjectsocially-engaged arten_US
dc.subjectecological performance arten_US
dc.subjectHazelwood mineen_US
dc.subjectLatrobe Valleyen_US
dc.subjectMorwellen_US
dc.subjectdusten_US
dc.subjectcleaningen_US
dc.subjectUkelesen_US
dc.subjectBaraden_US
dc.subjectintra-actionen_US
dc.subjectparticipatory practiceen_US
dc.subjectpractice-leden_US
dc.subjectethnographic sensibilityen_US
dc.subjectMeillasouxen_US
dc.subjectmatteren_US
dc.titleMaterial matters at the coalface: a socially-engaged art enquiry into the politics of coal, space and placeen_US
dc.typeMasters Research thesisen_US
melbourne.affiliation.departmentCentre for Cultural Partnerships
melbourne.affiliation.facultyVCA & MCM
melbourne.thesis.supervisornameBolt, Barb
melbourne.contributor.authorVeit, Hartmut
melbourne.accessrightsOpen Access


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