Date of Award
Master of Arts by Research
School of Arts and Humanities
Dr Paul Uhlmann
Dr Marcella Polain
The context of my embodied project, I Walk to See, I Walk to Know: Walking to Wongawol, is an exploration into 1) the absence of Western Desert Aboriginal narratives via the act of walking as knowing and 2) my recently discovered ancestral connections, which were historically erased by the state. The location of my project is Wongawol Station in the Western Desert, Western Australia, where my Indigenous ancestors lived, and whose lives I draw upon to make connections with the narratives and sensations of the desert landscape. I use the methodology of walking to investigate the interconnectivity between body and space/place and how this might be interpreted in relation to my research. For Nandi Chinna (2014), walking defines the body as the sensory vessel that can experience the dimensions of told and untold narratives of life on earth. I further explore the act of walking through the lens of rhythmanalysis—an approach that refers to how movement is a primary way of “engaging with the world” (Chen, 2013, p. 531). This is illustrated by works such as Raban’s Fergus Walking (Chen, 2013), a structural film that experiments within a nonbinary representation of walking within disrupted notions of time and space. Expanding on this idea, I have incorporated Derrida’s concepts of absence/presence within language/text, time and space as informed by his deconstructionism and nonbinary phenomenology to disrupt accepted literary and philosophical dichotomies. Indigenous film maker Thornton (2018) is also examined from the perspective of cinematography techniques in relation to body, memory, history and the land. Anselm Kiefer’s artworks, which convey the effects of Nazi Germany’s holocaust, allow a potent comparison reflecting “an intimate involvement with destruction and apocalypse [which acts] to provoke and keep memory alive” (Spies, 2016, p. 17). Underpinning my practice-led research are the writings of phenomenologists Merleau- Ponty (1962, 2012) and Heidegger (1962), who believe that the body and the world cannot be separated and that the body is essentially the primary place of knowing and interpreting the world (Merleau-Ponty, 2012): “my existence as subjectivity is identical with my existence as a body and with the existence of the world” (p. 431).
The resultant dynamism and potentialities of working with materials to define the place/space of my ancestors comprises the act of walking, field notes, archives, photographic processes, ceramics and print processes. Further, the knowledge gained from acute immersive processes, experiential outcomes in situ and references to government documents characterises this exegesis as preparatory work towards a much larger body of research yet to be undertaken.
The following images are not available in the online version of the thesis:
Fig 3 (page 31), Fig 4 (page 33), and Fig 13 (page 70).
Sears, C. (2020). I walk to see, I walk to know: Walking to Wongawol. An exhibition and I walk to see, I walk to know: Walking to Wongawol. An exegesis. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2356