Out of the Outback, into the Art World: Dotting in Australian Aboriginal Art and the Navigation of Globalization
In recent decades, the popularity of Australian Aboriginal dot painting overseas has exploded, with works by some of Australia’s leading artists selling for millions of dollars at auction, as well as featuring in major international exhibitions like the Venice Biennale and documenta. While this carries with it the risk of Aboriginal art and culture becoming diluted or commodified, this essay explores the origins and use of the ‘dotting’ typical of much Australian Aboriginal art of the Western and Central Deserts of Australia, as well as Aboriginal dot painting’s circulation internationally, to consider how Aboriginal art’s entry into the global art world might also represent an act of Indigenous self-determination. By leveraging the Western fascination with the ‘secret/sacred’ content often assumed to be hidden by these dots, Aboriginal artists have been able to generate an international market for their works. While Aboriginal communities remain among the most economically disadvantaged in Australia, Aboriginal art nevertheless provides a critical means by which Indigenous communities can support themselves, and, more importantly, operates as a form of cultural preservation and a tool by which Aboriginal peoples can assert their sovereignty.
ARTMargins Online, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp. 67-88.
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