Saturday, May 12, 2007

"we hope to fly out of the United Kingdom with our ancestors in our possession," Aboriginal negotiator Caroline Spotswood

Members of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community have been fighting to have their ancestor's remains returned from both local and international museums since the 1980s. Aboriginal elders in February won a court injunction stopping a series of DNA and imaging tests on the remains by Britain's Natural History Museum, which holds the remains. The bones of 13 Tasmanian Aborigines held for more than 100 years at a British museum will be sent home within days, ending a two-decade fight for their return...The bones were taken without permission in the 1880s in a case which has been called "Australia's Elgin marbles", a reference to the row between Britain and Greece over Parthenon sculptures held in the British Museum in London.
SMH May 11 2007

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

on commemoration and super/vision

In this fourth year of the doctoral process - scholarship ending September - yet the film's fine cut, sound post and thesis still to come, it is time to make a commemoration; not at the end when I finish, but right now in the thick of things.
To my partner, Stephen, for his acceptance, so steadfast.
To my principal supervisor Sarah Gibson. Sarah, you hold the space for an inner process to take place with a creative work; the Jungians call it soul work, and that's the level on which we work together. Thankyou for providing that space for me in here at UTS; without you I couldn't have come thus far with the film.
To Toula Anastas, your smile, open heart and intuitive understanding of the creative process, translated into the complex machinery of film and digital media, makes the whole process heartening; you listen and give back; you inspire and demonstrate the patience and endurance required to deliver works such as these.
To Karen Pearlman, the film's editor, for lightness and insight in the edit process.
To my daughter, step daughter and grandchild - for their love.
To Dr.S. For thirty years of reading together and for the distinct possibility of celebration.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Last night I found myself in a back street of Sydney I had not visited since the late 70s.I had a direct experience of the uncanny.
like falling between reality and unreality; of being in a landscape both familiar, yet as if in a dream; a corridor in my mind opened up to that historical period , as if right there in the dark on that fragment of earth, the space opened up and the line between past and present dissolved. I was at the Rozelle Psychiatric Hospital site. And then the images in Kenneth Loach's startling 1972 film Family Life ran through my internal projector along with experiences that led to a long alliance with filmmaking and psychoanalysis .

Sunday, May 6, 2007

there shall be no mourning

Derrida in The Work of Mourning (2001) ruminates on Lyotard's injunction, "there shall be no mourning...It could be said that this spectral echo roams about like a thief of the Apocalypse; it expires in the exhalation of this phrase, comes back to haunt our reading, respires or breathes in advance...and that is why whoever thus works at the work of mourning learns the impossible--and that mourning is interminable. Inconsolable. Irreconcilable."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Giving an Account of Oneself

Approaching Jericho, Tasmania. Photo by Stephen Ginsborg
I am at an impasse with the edit of the film and the re-write of the edit script. Co-supervisor Katrina Schlunke, looked at the edit and raised tricky questions about narrative certainty:
1. For a postcolonial text the film/me has too much authority
2. She wants a more sophisticated take on who I am
3. I maintain the centre...I need to lose it
4. More of the process of making it...the difficult spaces; the intractability
5. The ongoing force of Indigenous sovereignty - where is it?
6. She interrogated my use of the words amnesia, mourning
7. She said 'reading' a film text was hard for her...not like reading a written work
8. She said perhaps non-Indigenous Australia has a very persistent and creative and pervasive practice of forgetting that works through 'knowing' - that its styles and sets of knowledges that have arisen through western enlightenment etc but have been honed through the process of colonisation.

It sent me back to reading philospher Judith Butler's, Giving an Account of Oneself . How to translate into images:
Since I cannot tell the story in a straight line, and I lose my thread, and I start again, and I forget something crucial, and it is to hard to think about how to weave it in, and I start thinking, thinking, there must be some conceptual thread that will provide a narrative here, some lost link, some possibility for chronology, and the "I" becomes increasingly conceptual, increasingly awake, focused, determined, it is at this point that the thread must fall apart. The "I" who narrates finds that it cannot direct its narration, finds that it cannot give an account of its inability to narrate, why its narration breaks down, and so it comes to experience itself, or, rather, re-experience itself, as radically, if not irretrievably, unknowing about who it is... The "I" is breaking down...It does not know itself, and perhaps it never will. But is that the task, to know itself, to achieve an adequate narrative account of a life? And should it be? Is the task to cover over the breakage, the rupture, which is constitutive of the "I" through a narrative means that quite forcefully binds the elements together in a narration that is enacted as if it were perfectly possible, as if the break could be mended and defensive mastery restored?" Judith Butler, Diacritics 31.4 (2001) 22-40

So my attempt to confront cultural amnesia and the repression of the violent face of colonisation in Tasmania has become an enactment of defensive mastery? Yet another colonial gesture disguised as reparation?