Bronwyn Fredericks, Abraham Bradfield Signifying Aboriginal Identity, Culture and Country in Central Queensland Through a Public Art Project, Borderlands journal. Volume 20, Issue 1, 2021, Pages 89-115,
Alongside Toonooba (the Fitzroy River) in central Queensland, a series of Aboriginal flood markers are embedded within the earth, commanding attention to the river that flows on one side and the colonial infrastructure of Rockhampton that lies on the other. The flood markers are part of an arts project commissioned by the Queensland Government in 2013 to mark Rockhampton’s history and its relationship to the river. The flood markers, named Honouring Land Connections, assert Indigenous voices into discourses of place, particularly discourses about the significance of rivers on Country. This article explores how art represents wider socio-cultural and politicised contexts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous discourse. The authors discuss the artworks as a form of social action that signifies Rockhampton as an Indigenous space with a history that cannot be neatly divided into three time periods. Any suggestion that Honouring Land Connections represents Rockhampton’s precolonial period disregards Indigenous people’s ongoing connections with and responsibilities for Country. The artworks signify contested spaces, places and knowledge of Country, culture, and waterways. Honouring Land Connections maintains cultural connections and speaks back to White preconceptions of Indigeneity. The artists wage war on the selective readings and colonial amnesia in Australia to directly challenge notions of terra nullius and intellectual nullius. This article shows how art can facilitate interaction through which Aboriginal artists can affirm, negotiate, share, and explore their identities while challenging dominant Eurocentric preconceptions of place and identity.
Keywords : identity, Aboriginal, Indigenous Australia, art, public art