Of Other Spaces

I came back here after years – to find the Sacred. Or as MF says: “All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred”.
While Foucault went off and constructed a discourse of perfection – I am keen to keep tings a bit more dynamic and fuzzy. The oposition is not important – not certainly as much as the malevolence that stalks the sacred, the vulnerability, open-ness, resistance and so it goes the tension.

Michel Foucault, Of Other Spaces (1967), Heterotopias

The great obsession of the nineteenth century was, as we know, history: with its themes of development and of suspension, of crisis, and cycle, themes of the ever-accumulating past, with its great preponderance of dead men and the menacing glaciation of the world. The nineteenth century found its essential mythological resources in the second principle of thermaldynamics- The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space. We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment. I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein. One could perhaps say that certain ideological conflicts animating present-day polemics oppose the pious descendents of time and the determined inhabitants of space. Structuralism, or at least which is grouped under this slightly too general name, is the effort to establish, between elements that could have been connected on a temporal axis, an ensemble of relations that makes them appear as juxtaposed, set off against one another, implicated by each other-that makes them appear, in short, as a sort of configuration. Actually, structuralism does not entail denial of time; it does involve a certain manner of dealing with what we call time and what we call history.

Yet it is necessary to notice that the space which today appears to form the horizon of our concerns, our theory, our systems, is not an innovation; space itself has a history in Western experience, and it is not possible to disregard the fatal intersection of time with space. One could say, by way of retracing this history of space very roughly, that in the Middle Ages there was a hierarchic ensemble of places: sacred places and profane plates: protected places and open, exposed places: urban places and rural places (all these concern the real life of men). In cosmological theory, there were the supercelestial places as opposed to the celestial, and the celestial place was in its turn opposed to the terrestrial place. There were places where things had been put because they had been violently displaced, and then on the contrary places where things found their natural ground and stability. It was this complete hierarchy, this opposition, this intersection of places that constituted what could very roughly be called medieval space: the space of emplacement.

This space of emplacement was opened up by Galileo. For the real scandal of Galileo’s work lay not so much in his discovery, or rediscovery, that the earth revolved around the sun, but in his constitution of an infinite, and infinitely open space. In such a space the place of the Middle Ages turned out to be dissolved. as it were; a thing’s place was no longer anything but a point in its movement, just as the stability of a thing was only its movement indefinitely slowed down. In other words, starting with Galileo and the seventeenth century, extension was substituted for localization.

Today the site has been substituted for extension which itself had replaced emplacement. The site is defined by relations of proximity between points or elements; formally, we can describe these relations as series, trees, or grids. Moreover, the importance of the site as a problem in contemporary technical work is well known: the storage of data or of the intermediate results of a calculation in the memory of a machine, the circulation of discrete elements with a random output (automobile traffic is a simple case, or indeed the sounds on a telephone line); the identification of marked or coded elements inside a set that may be randomly distributed, or may be arranged according to single or to multiple classifications.

In a still more concrete manner, the problem of siting or placement arises for mankind in terms of demography. This problem of the human site or living space is not simply that of knowing whether there will be enough space for men in the world -a problem that is certainly quite important – but also that of knowing what relations of propinquity, what type of storage, circulation, marking, and classification of human elements should be adopted in a given situation in order to achieve a given end. Our epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of relations among sites.

In any case I believe that the anxiety of our era has to do fundamentally with space, no doubt a great deal more than with time. Time probably appears to us only as one of the various distributive operations that are possible for the elements that are spread out in space,

Now, despite all the techniques for appropriating space, despite the whole network of knowledge that enables us to delimit or to formalize it, contemporary space is perhaps still not entirely desanctified (apparently unlike time, it would seem, which was detached from the sacred in the nineteenth century). To be sure a certain theoretical desanctification of space (the one signaled by Galileo’s work) has occurred, but we may still not have reached the point of a practical desanctification of space. And perhaps our life is still governed by a certain number of oppositions that remain inviolable, that our institutions and practices have not yet dared to break down. These are oppositions that we regard as simple givens: for example between private space and public space, between family space and social space, between cultural space and useful space, between the space of leisure and that of work. All these are still nurtured by the hidden presence of the sacred.

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Holy Cash Cows

Finally someone come up with the story. I have heard of this for years – as casual cab conversations – about the ‘bogus’ colleges being run by Indians.

Where work experience certificates can be set up. But outright purchase was new to me. This I guess is the ‘dilli wallah’ in Australia.

Wendy Carlisle looks at the dirty little secrets behind Australia's education export industry.
Four Corners – 27/07/2009: Holy Cash Cows

Reporter Wendy Carlisle reveals how dodgy business practices are being used to rip off foreign students seeking legitimate qualifications in Australia. At the same time she also shows how vocational training for foreign students has become an immigration scam allowing thousands of foreigners to come to, and then remain in, Australia under false pretences.

For ten years now Australia’s foreign student education sector has been on a massive growth spurt. First it was foreign students seeking university degrees. More recently it’s the vocational education sector that’s been expanding.

Last year more than 70,000 Indian students came here to buy an education. Egged on by immigration and education agents, many were told if they enrolled in cooking, hairdressing and accounting courses they would not only get a diploma but they could also qualify for permanent residency in Australia.

Now a major Four Corners investigation reveals that foreign students in this country have been targeted by unscrupulous businessmen, who have set up training schools that supply qualifications that sometimes aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets

The indigenous in rites of passage
Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets

Welcome to Two Feathers Coffins and Caskets. Our goal is to provide our customers with a coffin or casket that reflects their ancestry and beliefs.Our products are handmade by Native craftsman utilizing birch, spruce, maple and pine, and lovingly decorated by a Native artist. Each casket or coffin is customizable to reflect your clan or band affiliation. Colours, artwork, paint, stain, upholstery material, shape and design can be custom made to suit an individual.

Aboriginal Links Page

A huge set of links with interesting project descriptions.

AMMSA’s Aboriginal Links Page – Your single source for links to Aboriginal sites and resources on the web!

One of the most comprehensive list of links on the web. If you start here, you may not need to go anywhere else! Currently off-line

Lenore Dembski

Lenore Dembski: Paperbark Woman

Lenore Dembski is a contemporary Aboriginal fashion designer influencing current trends. Her designs feature textiles designed and produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and reflect her cultural heritage and contemporary focus.

For almost 30 years Lenore has been designing and manufacturing clothing. Lenore’s labels which feature men’s, women’s and children’s clothing suitable for resort, day and evening wear, include:

* Lenore Dembski Paperbark Woman (women’s wear)
* Oakman (men’s wear)
* Aunty Lenore (children’s wear).

The clothing she produces is made using fabric designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. Lenore purchases fabrics from a pool of about twenty designers and organises the manufacture of garments. Lenore is also the owner of a retail outlet, Paperbark Woman.

Lenore Dembski also holds a number of other positions. She is the Manager, Staff Development and Training of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in Darwin and is a newly appointed member of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Arts Board. The Board assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to “claim, control and enhance their cultural inheritance”. (McGauran, 2000: 2)

Paperbark Woman: the history so far
Lenore Dembski was born in Darwin, and with the exception of about four years in the early 1980s, has lived there all her life. Lenore has been married for 24 years to Andrew Dembski. Her family name is Calma.

Lenore Dembski says the Paperbark Woman name comes from her Aboriginal group, the Kungarakan people, who are known as Paperbark people. Oakman comes from her husband’s name. Dembski is Polish and means Oaktree. As well as designing and sewing the clothes herself, Lenore also sub-contracts the sewing to several local clothing manufacturers and individuals.

To many locals, Lenore Dembski is known for her public service work in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and training area and her involvement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. However, she was actually a designer and maker before she even thought about a career in the public service. At high school she was intending to go into the clothing industry and had taken the entrance examination for a Sydney design school. When she was not accepted she arranged an apprenticeship with a local tailor. Her father however, convinced her to stay at school and complete Year 12. On completing school, he suggested she join the public service and sew later. After 25 years, the later came in the year 2000 when she opened her shop.

Sewing as a child
Lenore was taught to sew by her mother when she was about eight. To start with, she made dolls’ clothes and costumes for plays put on by her sisters and friends. She began sewing for herself and her brother and sisters by the time she was twelve and started designing, drafting and sewing clothes for other people by the time she was thirteen. Lenore learnt some formal skills in sewing when she did “Sewing” during first year at Darwin High School. Between 15 and 18, Lenore modelled in a number of fashion parades and worked on weekends and school holidays for Woolworths selling all forms of clothing, materials and haberdashery.

By her mid-teens, Lenore knew how to do knitting, crocheting, tatting, beadwork, tapestry, batik, tie dye, macrame, applique, patchwork and various other art and craft activities. She used an Elna SU sewing machine and a Contesser overlocker. She attended a number of short courses put on by Elna in applique and machine embroidery, men’s wear, swim wear, lingerie, and stretch materials. In Adelaide in 1982, Lenore did a twelve hour course to learn formal techniques in drafting.
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Lenore formally started her sewing business in 1979 when she moved to Adelaide. She manufactured children’s clothes, women’s sportswear, lingerie, and curtains for several outlets, designed bridal and after-five wear for individuals and costumes for concerts. On returning to Darwin in 1984, Lenore sewed on a casual basis for family and friends and did a small amount of children’s wear for several outlets.

In 1996, to coincide with the Aboriginal Development Unit’s project to help promote Aboriginal fabrics to designers and the general public, Lenore started to actively produce resort wear, and evening and glamour wear using Aboriginal fabrics.

Symbols, motifs and ownership: marketing and copyright issues

The Powerhouse museum has a bit of material looking at the issue of indigenous design

Symbols, motifs and ownership: marketing and copyright issues

Exploitation of creative work can be a problem for any artist. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders the problem is often more complex as the symbols and motifs used in their designs also hold cultural significance for a particular group. Exploitation of the design impacts not only on the artist but also on the group.

A positive example of the use of copyright law by an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander would be the use of Jimmy Pike’s artwork by Rowe Fabrics, Sydney for an interior fabric. This was Pike’s first licensing agreement in home furnishings.

Jimmy Pike,

…entered into a series of business arrangements with Culley and Wroth of Desert Designs. These would protect the integrity of his art (and separate the paintings and the production/marketing of limited edition prints) but enable additional income to be derived from the licensing of his designs and the strategic development of the Desert Designs company. (O’Ferrall, 1995: 3)

Not all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had such positive experiences.
In 1994

… a case of theft of Aboriginal imagery occurred when a businessman …had carpets made in Vietnam with images stolen from Aboriginal paintings, and falsely labelled them to give authenticity. The artists took him to court and won. He was ordered to pay compensation but went bankrupt.
(The Koori Mail, 1998: 15) this became known as The carpet case.

Another significant case involving the infringement of the copyright of an Aboriginal artist has been resolved. The case, brought by the Sydney-based artist Bronwyn Bancroft with the assistance of the Aboriginal Arts Management Association, was listed for hearing in the Federal Court on December 12, 1991.

The clothing manufacturer Dolina Fashion Group Pty Ltd supplied Grace Bros stores with an ‘exclusive’ dress design for a major promotion through its network. It was alleged that Dolina’s stylists had requested an Aboriginal look from the Japanese fabric maker Sastani to present as the front line of their fashion range.

The fabric maker supplied a print in three colour ways, which, it was alleged, was a direct copy of an original artwork by Bancroft, Eternal Eclipse (1998), which had been reproduced in Jennifer Isaac’s book Aboriginality: Contemporary Aboriginal Paintings and Prints.

The clothing manufacturer and retailers claimed that they were innocent of the infringement and the fault lay with the fabric maker who printed the design. The case raised a number of interesting issues in copyright, especially in relation to Aboriginal art.

Copyright law, in its present form, functions best to protect the individual artist from the unauthorised use of his or her work. For artists to have their work pirated represents a theft of their intellectual property and a distortion of the intent of the artwork. Although, in Bancroft’s case, it may be difficult to prove who was directly responsible for appropriating the image, the design used by Dolina is a copy of Bancroft’s painting. The artist has suffered the shock and embarrassment of seeing her original artwork trivialised. Bancroft also has an established reputation as a fashion designer of original garments, at a different level of the fashion market from Dolina’s styles for major retail outlets. (Cochrane Simons, 1991)

The Label of Authenticity
Bronwyn Bancroft’s case is one of the cases that motivated the development of the Label of Authenticity. The National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)

…through funding from the Australia Council and ATSIC, are in the process of developing a national system of labelling that will distinguish art and cultural products from the fake products. As a certified trade mark the Label of Authenticity will be attached to a product or used in relation to a service originating from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. (NIAAA)

Why do we need a Label of Authenticity
For some time concern has been growing that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designs and symbols have been incorrectly used, most often without permission. Examples include artwork, tourist souvenirs and carpets, to name a few.

The primary responsibilities of the NIAAA as the national peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and cultural service include the continued and increased recognition and protection of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. NIAAA provides culturally appropriate advice, information, referrals and support services to indigenous artists and organisations. (NIAAA, 1999)

Label of Authenticity. Courtesy: National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)

NIAAA logo. Courtesy: National Indigenous Arts Advocacy Association (NIAAA)