Reframing the Vernacular: Politics, Semiotics and Representation
International Conference on Cultural Communications and Space (ICCCS), 28-29 November 2018, Denpasar, Bali

Senior Lecturer Dr Campbell Drake selected to present paper titled Cultural burning and the interstices of two vernacular cultural forms.

28-29 November 2018, Denpasar, Bali

Investigating the complexity of vernacular subjects within the context of intercultural land ownership in Australia, this design research examines how site specific performance can activate engagement in the spatial politics of contested Australian landscapes.

Questioning the ongoing impact of colonialism, the paper is centered on a performance event titled Cultural Burn that took place in 2016, on an 8000-hectare property acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation1 as part of a compensatory land bank established for the dispossession of Aboriginal people. Drawing a comparison between the traditional Aboriginal land management practice of cultural burning,2 and the burning of a western cultural artefact,3 the research explores the cultural, ethical and political resonance of burning a piano4 on Barkanji5 Country6 within an ephemeral billabong.7

Subverting common understandings of two vernacular cultural forms through the juxtaposition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural practices, Cultural Burn resonates as political from Jacques Rancière’s perspective, in that itpresents familiar cultural forms combined in an unfamiliar way.’8 Accentuated through the act of burning the piano on Culpra Station, the differences between Indigenous and non­Indigenous cultural and environmental disciplinary regimes emerge. Addressing vernacularity in relation to how we are positioned at the interstices between subjects, knowledge systems, histories, traditions and practices,’9 the research curates material, spatial and acoustic disciplines to explore how vernacular subjects are presented, represented and practiced within an intercultural, cross-disciplinary and post-colonial context.