Songlines, museology and contemporary Aboriginal art

Long before contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art transformed Australian art history through its proactive assertion of the sovereignty of Australian First Nations people, museums in Australia had been constructing and distributing a version of the Aboriginal past that was entirely authored and often misrepresented by non‑Indigenous people. Following the self‑determination movements of the 1970s, artists and communities have successfully asserted the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people to depict and represent their culture on their own terms. This transformation has come about through the work and struggles of many artists, activists and curators. The results of their arduous fight for change can be read through several recent precedents that signal an altogether different understanding of how Aboriginal philosophies can enlighten audiences today.

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