I’ve started working on my forthcoming Fleuriescapes exhibition at the Magpie Springs Gallery in January/February 2016. The exhibition explores the Fleurieu Peninsula in terms of people, space and place as this opens up a way to gain a perspective on the white colonisation of the region and the contemporary Indigenous absence. The exhibition is the first step in this project about a region that markets itself as Adelaide’s holiday adventure playground.
The history of the Fleurieu Peninsula appears to be premised on the pioneer myth/legend based on the ingenuity hard work and adventurousness of the early settlers and the cultural extinction of the Ngarrindjeri people. An anthropologically constructed image of a southern Indigenous person in a possum skin cloak in the South Australian Museum comes to represent a ‘unique’, but extinct Indigenous presence in the heartland of the white Australian nation.
The story of modernity excludes Indigenous people. It produces a set of foundational myths that are written by signs of development such as the bridge, the jetty and the marina. They all represent the power of western technology to overwrite the ‘natural landscape’. This is the landscape in which Indigenous people and Indigenous interests have been traditionally located. It is assumed that the Indigenous place has been obliterated or covered over by the layers of progress.
Indigenous interests are not included in the political, economic, social space of the contemporary. Only through associations to heritage ‘sites’ and places in ‘past’ landscapes can Indigenous people have an identity in the contemporary, often as an archaic object of interest to the tourism industry.Indigenous people in the contemporary space of the Fleurieu Peninsula are increasingly being transformed into tourism objects, objects of heritage interest, or ‘relic’ populations with connections to an archaeological past