Histories 1992

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Feminist practitioners such as Barbara Kruger, Mary Kelly and Narelle Jubelin have made an important contribution toward visual art since the 1980s. Using media images and reinvigorating objects associated with ‘the feminine’, these artists have revealed official historical narratives of the cultural and social to be constructed. They have demonstrated that femininity is both an historical visual construct and simultaneously erased from Western visual culture. Ely’s research contribution to this field lies in the deployment of conceptual art techniques in conjunction with time-based media, carrying the feminist argument into these areas of artistic practice. Histories is an installation that assembles lithographs and woodblock prints representing Western visual systems, didactically placing these into a familiar historical timeline. These sit alongside a blank, black sheet of paper, standing in for the ‘unknown’ feminine. Ely takes this opposition between the known and unknown further by juxtaposing this binary to a recording of the night breast-feeding of an infant. Ely’s practice-based research effects a displacement of the usual binary revealed as normative by feminist artists. Time-based media demonstrates the presence of another kind of daily and corporeal familiar ‘history’. The work contributes to feminist visual art practice by using diverse installation media to demonstrate the multiplicity of history itself. The significance of the work is evidenced by its inclusion in the exhibition Fieldwork held at the Ian Potter Centre for Australian Art, NGV, Melbourne, an exhibition surveying the most important developments in Australian Art from 1968-2002. The work has also been shown in Spitting and Biting at Monash University Gallery, Melbourne.
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Ely, Bonita Ann
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Smith, Jason
Green, Charles
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Creative Work (non-textual)
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