Apmere Angkentye-kenhe: language as a music playing us
AffiliationCentre for Cultural Partnerships
Document TypeMasters Research thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Beth Jane Louise Sometimes
Apmere Angkentye-kenhe: Language as a music playing us describes a practice based research project that examines and actively attends to the valuing of particular local knowledges and forms of knowing. Alongside a shadow ‘un-knowing’ it considers these forms of knowing in their function as critical apparatus in this moment of globalised imagination and movement. The research was materialised through an artist-led social project Apmere Angkentye-kenhe (which translates from Central/Eastern Arrernte to English as ‘A Place for Language’) which was produced and designed collaboratively with Central/Eastern Arrernte people in Alice Springs, the town built on Mparntwe in Australia. The project created a language learning and exchange site in the centre of the Alice Springs CBD, designed for and accessed by both settlers and Arrernte families, which was advertised publicly and open for three weeks. Open-invitation events and activities that promoted and generated resources for engaging with the first language of Mparntwe were promoted at the site. The space was also open certain days over the three-week period for casual visits to engage with the tactile, visual and aural content contained within. Apmere Angkentye-kenhe sought to create situations that expose certain colonial ideologies in action both in the public work and in the interactions within its making; within my own research and within the practice. Methodologically the research prioritised the politics of listening over the politics of voice. The project materialised various questions of political responsibility and created situations for listening across alterity, both within its collaborative structure, and with and for a public. In writing about this work, I question the possibility for this type of practice to realise arts great emancipatory promises, illuminating where it can function as a neo-colonial force. Where awareness for the potential for harm must be held in tension in throughout many stages of the work are examined. The research interrogates what the vocabulary of art could affect in Mparntwe, when multiple campaigns in that context appear to require urgency? How can art, in this context, generate alternative temporal or spatial economies of exchange? Here I look at the implications of the research for relationships of local responsibility and listening on behalf of settlers – intimating the complications and philosophical double-binds into which we are tethered.
Keywordssocial practice; fine art; Arrernte; indigenous language; decolonisation; public art; collaboration
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