Repositories of Recognition

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McGregor, Carol
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2018
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Abstract

Research Background: McGregor’s solo exhibition Repositories of Recognition (2018) held at Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of The University of Virginia, USA included an installation of possum skin bags, which feature painted diamonds formed by hand-drawn parallel lines and geometric patterns, and kitsch Australian tourist tea towels collected by McGregor, cut up and reconstructed as aprons, subverting the original meaning by turning them inside out and embroidering her own messages. By placing these two textile artworks in conversation with each other, McGregor exposes the harm done by the ongoing misrepresentation of her identity in the tea towels, while also making a statement about the complex and sophisticated identities mapped on possum skins.

Research Contribution: Souvenirs appropriated with Aboriginal imagery without permission, were not made by Aboriginal people and were most popular at the same time as assimilationist policies -attempting to stamp out traditional cultural practices. McGregor’s artworks revive and celebrate the almost-forgotten tradition of working with possum skins which were historically sewn together into cloaks for practical purposes but were also incised and painted with sacred designs, serving as containers of Indigenous identity.

Research Significance: In 2018 McGregor was artist-in-residence at The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of The University of Virginia in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts. It is the only museum outside of Australia dedicated to exhibiting and study of Indigenous Australian Art A traditional Indigenous Australian possum skin cloak is held in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, USA.

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The copyright in this creative work belongs to the Griffith artist.
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Visual arts
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history
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McGregor, C, Repositories of Recognition, 2018
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