Art in the Time of Colony
It is often assumed that the verbal and visual languages of Indigenous people had little influence upon the classification of scientific, legal, and artistic objects in the metropolises and museums of nineteenth-century colonial powers. However colonized locals did more than merely collect material for interested colonizers. In developing the concept of anachronism for the analysis of colonial material this book writes the complex biographies for five key objects that exemplify, embody, and refract the tensions of nineteenth-century history.
Link to Text on Art in the Time of Colony by Richard Drayton
Click here to listen to the audio recording of the whole book launch
‘This accomplished and inventive book puts the cultural practices of Aboriginal peoples in conversation with some of the most challenging forms of contemporary critical theory. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll initiates a rhetoric of reading that transforms traditional accounts of the relationship of the arts of perception to strategies of power. Her “anachronic method” creates a scholarly world in which temporal distances and differences collaborate in the making of contemporary art. Her achievement is both substantial and remarkably subtle.’
Homi K. Bhabha, Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University, USA
”Carroll’s superbly-written study of colonial art, history, science and cultural encounter in Australia is a compelling account of Indigenous responses to Western imposition…Carroll’s volume offers rare insight for scholars into what Aboriginal Australia has always/already understood about Aboriginal art; that the art of perception has an immutable relationship with the strategies of colonial power. Carroll understands the patience with which Indigenous people endure post-colonialism. It is patience that underpins an unbroken process of creative resistance.’ Greg Lehman, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra. Link to full text of the review
‘Art in the Time of Colony is an absorbing, experimental interrogation of colonial art and encounter in Australia. The book is notable on many grounds, not least for its fresh research on the intriguing mid-nineteenth century scientific traveller Blandowski, almost forgotten until very recently, but above all for its perspective on art history, from the vantage point of contemporary art. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll’s voice is distinctive and compelling.’
Nicholas Thomas, University of Cambridge, UK
‘History would have it that there are people without history. Or as Hegel wrote, they were natural cultures that had to perish as soon as the spirit of the West approached. The spirit of Hegel is a temporal spectre for Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll in her Art in the Time of Colony, and its inevitable teleology is brought into question by what she leads us to see in Australia’s fragments of visual historical reckoning. Thus the artistic engagement in the nineteenth century between Australian inhabitants and European colonists is not just the subject of this original, passionate and beautifully written book, but it is the means of inquiry about the nature of time and perception and the arts of Australia today, reinserting a claim to history and aesthetics that is too often still denied to too many.’
Thomas B.F. Cummins, Harvard University, USA
‘In this captivating book, historian, artist and curator Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll draws on contemporary Australian Aboriginal art to challenge historical blind spots and re-think stuffy conventions of art criticism. In exploring encounters between colonial visual cultures, her surprising, fresh and delightful juxtapositions bring new ideas and objects into view, and allow us to see familiar things anew. This book tackles the important task of reclaiming Aboriginal practice from anthropology for art and in doing so, challenges outmoded notions of colonialism, media, art, and even time.’
Jane Lydon, author of Eye Contact and The Flash of Recognition
‘In her stunning study, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll takes her readers beyond the armchair enchantments of conventional accounts of Indigenous art, dissolving boundaries among art history, anthropology, history of science and contemporary art. She shows that resistance to white norms can take many and subtle forms, both in the nineteenth century and in the present. Readers of this book will see how Indigenous cultural traditions – in this instance Australian, however artificial that concept may be – though mutable and adaptable, perdure and interact with settler values in unexpected ways. Carroll’s distinctive art history thereby brings pasts to light – Aboriginal and white – that would otherwise have remained obscure.’
Ivan Gaskell, Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, New York, USA
‘The fascinating premise behind Khadjia von Zinnenburg Carroll’s Art in the Time of Colony is an examination of how contemporary art has been used to stand in for gaps in the historical record of Indigenous Australians’. Kelli Cole, University of Adelaide In: Artlink journal Indigenous Issue
Art in the Time of Colony is an experiment in writing history and generating new knowledge via the discipline of fine art practice, asking what happens if the relationship between art and history is reversed? Instead of history being written to understand art, art becomes the paradigm through which to navigate our understanding of history… One of the achievements of Art in the Time of Colony is its articulation and embodiment of art practice as generative of knowledge. The book is an instance of an artist writing about both art and history as art, reflecting cogently and intelligently on her own practice and that of others, as well contextualising this practice in wider historical narratives. In doing so, Art in the Time of Colony demonstrates that art can be understood as a knowledge-forming discipline.
Alana Jelinek, University of Cambridge; In: Journal of Museum Ethnography
‘This is a stunning and ambitious study of cross cultural encounters which reveals their nuanced and unexpected poetics and violence. Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll’s self proclaimed ‘museum in a book’ employs a creative and highly original way of thinking about the time of the colony through anachronism and how the arc of colonial time might be best thought of as being like the boomerang. Her stark juxtapositions and subtle weaving together of Aboriginal and colonial nineteenth-century art create emotive and acute alignments that are fascinating and timely. Rigorously researched, Art in the Time of the Colony is a seminal study that will change the way in which scholars approach visual culture and the postcolony. A tour de force.
Natasha Eaton, University College London, In: Art History: Journal of the Association of Art Historians
Link to related articles from Chapter One (Proclamations), Three (Classification) Four (Mapping), and Five (Presence)
This installation and video are now the permanent display in the Tasmania section of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University.