Targeting of Indigenous Women 2c - Uncovering Violence


Uncovering Violence

[imagecaption] Julie Gough, HUNTING GROUND (Pastoral) Van Diemen’s Land, 2016-17 (“Risdon” video still) HDMI  video projection, colour, silent, 12:26 min, 3:4 ratio edited by Angus Ashton. Viewable on Youtube. Also see essay ‘Julie Gough’s Forensic Archaeology of National Forgetting‘ by Joseph Pugliese.  [/imagecaption]


Julie Gough’s Hunting Ground (Pastoral) 2017 draws upon a series of colonial images representing pastoral visions of the colony. In the course of her video artwork, Gough deploys time-lapse photography to unsettle and reframe the pastoral vision of the settler landscape. Each colonial image used by Gough represents the site of a colonial massacre. The colonial image, in the course of the video, becomes scarred by the targeted victims of a settler massacre: ‘Blacks, woman, four men, a child.’ In the course of Gough’s video, each colonial image becomes completely buried under a thick layer of soil. Gough has sourced the soil that covers each image from actual settler massacre sites of Aboriginal Tasmanians.

In documenting the cumulative extension of soil across the surface of a series of colonial images to the point of complete effacement, Gough brings into focus the literal process of the historical decomposition of a massacre site and its consequent burial and excision from the annals of settler history.  Across the surface of a site of atrocity, the amnesic soil of national forgetting continues to accumulate (Pugliese 2017). Its accretive layers occlude the hundreds of massacre sites that scar the Australian landscape, even as they serve to supply the very foundation of the settler nation and all of its prestigious civil institutions – of law, government, church and culture.

The aesthetic techniques deployed in Gough’s work powerfully resonate with those used in many of the other Indigenous artworks that inscribe this case study. They include aesthetic techniques of reframing stock colonial images and genres in order expose their historical lies and effacements; tactics of uncovering buried acts of settler violence, thereby exposing atrocities not told in settler histories of the nation; and techniques of bringing into focus the traces of Indigenous culture and history that have resisted settler acts of obliteration and that continue to attest to Indigenous survivance.


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