Cultural Precinct

1 February 2016

Reflecting on Tarnanthi, a Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art

All this creating speaking breathing on Kaurna country demands more than just an acknowledgment of a peoples past present and future, for this place, this space, is abundant with stories and strong families who have always had agency, moving through and resisting what this particular cultural-precinct represents: Tarnanthi – rise, come-forth, spring-up, appear. Right here, in this potent-place, you will find Festival offerings beyond a feast of art, for this cultural-precinct along Adelaide’s North Terrace is no easy place for everyone to navigate…. these limestone walls whisper a conglomerate fragmented journey that has lead us, toward this day, surrounded by precious gifts like these images, these hanging skirts, these glass bush-yams, these baskets, and now, in this moment, I call on you to reflect on the very walls from which they hang….

these limestone walls
frame institutions of power
shape the
‘main story’
this colonial ‘free’ State
/
these North Terrace
statues
bronzed famous faces
symbols of colonialism
Empire-revered
/
next door the Parade Ground
original quarry
raw materials morph
grand buildings abound
/
limestone mined
from this old Kaurna campsite
Red-Kangaroo
stories
ripped from the ground
/
these limestone walls
these
limestone walls
/
consider this Armory
that housed a
morgue
cells and gallows
watch our people hang
/
see mounted police
perform military functions
“pacified” our
warriors
on colonial frontiers
/
these wretched walls
this
Armory building
hear horses-hooves gallop
on cobblestoned
blood
/
this limestone heritage
revered cultural-precinct
our bodies stolen
de-
fleshed and preserved
/
these limestone walls
these
limestone walls
/
consider this place
the South Australian
Museum
their proudest collection
wins the Empire’s great race
/
an uncanny replica
London’s Natural History Museum
but
what is ‘natural’
about their history of this place?
/
they ‘set up
camp’
on great expeditions
to study and collect us
‘experts’ in teams
/
their cabinets of curiosity
their objects and
specimens
their racialised hierarchy
our human remains
/
these limestone walls
these limestone walls
/
the Migration
Museum
was the old Protector’s Office
the Rations Depot
the Colonial Store
/
blankets and flour
sugar and tea
the
removal of children
the first Kaurna school
/
and behind the Art
Gallery
the Radford Auditorium
the ammunitions-store
for
military-police
/
then a storage-place
for Aboriginal
Records
where paper-trails trace
surveillance and control
/
consider the paperwork
the archiving process
to consign and
classify
this resource maintained
/
consider this fantasy
monolith-
archive
its stunning all-knowing
so easily sustained
/
these limestone walls
these limestone walls
/
strive to navigate
this
violent place
be still and listen
there are waterholes here
/
these
fresh water springs
flow a limestone-memory
erode and
expose
our truth will appear

.





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