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09.00  Performing Anzac: Heritage Discourse in the Production of Commemorative Arts and Crafts

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9:00, Dimanche 5 Juin 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will explore the intersection of performativity and heritage discourse that is evident in the production narratives of Australian creative artists who made handicraft objects commemorating the 2015 Anzac centenary. This centenary marks the landing of troops at Gallipoli from the Australian and New Zealand armed forces during World War I, a moment considered foundational in the birth of the Australian nation and the development of Australian identity. In 2015, rural agricultural shows and community-based art exhibits provided spaces where, intentionally and unintentionally, vernacular craft-based performances of national remembering were able to claim space. Drawing on interviews with textile artists, quilters, embroiderers, and cake decorators who submitted Anzac exhibits, the unseen purposes, meanings, and assumptions of Anzac operating in these display contexts will be investigated. I will argue that the craft production practices and narratives both reinforce and challenge accepted heritage discourses related to Anzac, and this positionality has implications at the personal, community, and national identity levels. As part of a wider research project exploring how Anzac narratives are being interpreted and integrated into contemporary understandings of national heritage and collective remembering, this research will highlight both creative agency and the performative nature of the ways in which people are actively reproducing and responding to the authorized heritage discourse about Anzac.

Emma Wensing


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