Embodying Affect: The Stolen Generations, the History Wars and PolesApart by Indigenous New Media Artist r e a

Christine Nicholls

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    In her 2009 new media artwork PolesApart, Australian Aboriginal artist r e a, 1 of the Gamilaraay people in northern New South Wales, explores issues relating to the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children. Based on the personal experiences of her grandmother and great aunt as 'stolen children', r e a amplifies the work's familial dimension by enacting the role of the protagonist fleeing from forced servitude. This paper looks at PolesApart in the broader context of the interrelated phenomena of the stolen generations and the so-called 'history wars'. It is posited that the power, immediacy and affective dimensions of (moving) visual imagery have been instrumental in shifting Australians' knowledge about the stolen generations from the margins into the mainstream. The capacity of the moving image to 'embody affect' [13], it is argued, has enabled many more Australians than previously to appreciate the historical implications and continuing ramifications of this prolonged episode in Australian history. This has in turn led to the development of a more sympathetic public understanding of the phenomenon of the stolen generations as 'lived experience'. In turn this broader social knowledge, and its integration into our shared cultural heritage, has contributed to Australians' general receptiveness to the official Apology issued to members of the stolen generations by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Federal Parliament (13th February 2008). It is also the case that the popular reception of mainstream stolen generation-themed movies has influenced Australians' openness to the themes and issues explored in contemporary non-mainstream new media work such as r e a's PolesApart. In the latter work, through the use of the vehicle of her own body, r e a demonstrates that the personal is inescapably political, and vice versa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages7
    Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2010
    Event2010 14th International Conference Information Visualisation (IV 2010) -
    Duration: 27 Jul 2010 → …


    Conference2010 14th International Conference Information Visualisation (IV 2010)
    Period27/07/10 → …


    • Australian aboriginal history
    • History wars
    • PolesApart (hd. Video)
    • r e a
    • Stolen generations


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