Katie West and the anti-metaphor

decolonial poetics (avant gubba) (2017), by Bundjalung poet Evelyn Araluen, captures a poignant facet of Katie West’s practice: ‘there are no metaphors here’ [poet’s spacing]. Amid the turbulent aestheticisation of changing climates, biodiversity, colonial legacies and land management, Araluen cautions us to ‘…not touch the de’ [poet’s emphasis]. The rapid adoption of “eco-critical” and “post”-colonial curation, making, staging and writing, in recent times, manifests in work that leaves us with an ecological feeling, a subtle gesture or zephyr. The process of decolonisation, however, cannot simply linger in the air, resting in the conceptual world. Nor can the “eco‑critical”. There is little room for the metaphorical rendering of these material challenges. The relationship between anticolonial projects and environmental consciousness is pervasive, and the health of Country mirrors the health of peoples. The theft and degradation of land always follows in colonialism’s footsteps: Violence inscribed upon the land is inscribed in both minds and bodies.


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