Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial (RRM) is a visual arts research project that concerns the Australian frontier wars and the possibility of representing the magnitude of Indigenous loss and survival in a national memorial. This is an Australia Research Council grant.

RESEARCH PLAN

The lack of memorials to the frontier wars and Indigenous loss and survival in Australia is an issue that has been paramount for several decades. There is much to be learnt from international examples of memorials to genocide and state violence and the ideas and issues that both inform these examples and are generated by them. There is also a wealth of activity happening in Australia at a grassroots level that addresses this need for memorialisation, as well as a multitude of visual resources in the archives attesting to these histories and Indigenous cultural practices of mourning. 

Key to this project is taking a comparative approach to consider this issue from different perspectives and to link local and international, and past and present, memorial practices. This approach will generate new parameters for discussion and action, which will assist in developing a visual language that can address the magnitude of Indigenous loss and survival.


AIMS OF THE PROJECT

The aims of Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial are:

  • to reveal how the lack of memorials in Australia to the frontier wars and Indigenous loss and survival is an anomaly in the international memorial landscape that requires attention;
  • to evaluate the need for a national memorial to the traumatic histories of the frontier wars; and 
  • to advance the discussion about the representation of Indigenous loss and survival by developing a set of principles for memorial projects.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

We will be interviewing people whose work and lives are dedicated to remembering traumatic histories and activating discussion and public visibility. Experts include Aboriginal elders, community leaders, artists, architects and scholars both in Australia and overseas. These interviews will be videotaped and become part of an artwork for public exhibition.

Over the course of the project we will visit key sites across the world where histories of genocide, fascism, frontier violence and atrocities have been publicly commemorated. Sites include: Myall Creek, Australia; Memorial stupa, Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre and Tuol Sleng, Cambodia; Memorial to the Murdered Jews, Germany; Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site, United States; the Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, Vienna, as well as sites in Canada and Mexico.

  • Archival research and community consultation

We will gather examples of cultural practices of remembrance and mourning by liaising with Indigenous communities and by researching historical archives relating to the first peoples. 

In 2018 we will be holding a five-day forum in Melbourne, Australia, with a core group of international and Australian delegates with backgrounds in art, architecture, visual culture, design, and community action, and with expertise in memorial projects. Please see the dedicated page for more information.

 


OUTCOMES

Our research activities will produce a number of outcomes including:

  • a set of principles for Australian memorial projects to Indigenous loss and survival;
  • publications; and
  • drawings, architectural models and artworks for public exhibition.