9 shots 5 stories: Imants Tillers and Indigenous difference part 1
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This is the second part of an essay which began life in a conference paper at the 2nd Imagined Australia conference, Bari, Italy, in June 2009, and the Daphne Mayo lecture, University of Queensland, September 2009. The first part (including the first two stories, ‘From beginning to end’ and ‘The story’) is published in AMA #228, April 2010.
While the pairing of The nine shots and Five dreamings in the 1986 Sydney Biennale catalogue explicitly addressed the Biennale’s theme, Origins Originality + Beyond, growing anxieties about the place of Aboriginal art in the national culture, heightened by the considerable presence of Aboriginal art at the Biennale, inevitably created a small storm about the theft of Aboriginal culture. This fed a deeper complaint. The uneasiness about collapsing the borders of Aboriginal and European culture had never been placated, and it produced the most trenchant criticism. Davila was the most cutting, accusing Tillers of taking ‘a dominant role with regard to Aboriginal culture’:
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