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  3. Protecting Australian Indigenous art
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  5. Protection: the issues
  6. Criticism
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Criticism

Aboriginal art and culture can be stripped of meaning through the processes of translation and criticism. Inevitably, Aboriginal artists and their works are often received into popular consciousness through commentators and critics who act as ‘interpreters’ for the non-Aboriginal community. Those who control communications and the art ‘establishment’ will remain, in many ways, the most powerful agents in the presentation of, and discourse about, Aboriginal art. Fry & Willis (1989) wrote:

... the Western desert dot paintings ... in which a complex and unknowable symbology of body painting and ground diagrams is transferred to canvas, often get read as abstract art. Typical of this Western response is what Kay Larson, art critic for New York Magazine, wrote: ‘Aboriginal art at its best is as powerful as any abstract painting I can think of. I kept remembering Jackson Pollock, who also spread the emotional weight of thought and action throughout the empty spaces of his canvases’. This comparison naively maps Modernist self-expression onto the cultural practices of non-Western artists.

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