Exploring the relations between the site of research and the site of output, this paper is a critical comparison of the immediate experience of conducting research in a specific place/space and the sites at which practice-based research outputs are published and exhibited. Extending Miwon Kwon’s assertion that ‘site is not simply a geographical location but a network of social relations,’ this research is situated within the field of critical spatial practice and explores the ability of site-specific performance to activate engagement in Australian spatial politics. Carried out as a series of iterative performances, the practice-based research methodology uses salvaged pianos as a device to renegotiate the politics of space through the re-appropriation of iconic and contested Australian sites.
This paper is focused on a performance titled Instrumental, which took place on an 8,000-hectare property acquired by the Indigenous Land Corporation as part of a land bank established for the Aboriginal people of the Barkanji nation. Produced in collaboration with the Culpra Milli Aboriginal Corporation (CMAC) in 2015, Instrumental came about through an invitation to participate in a critical cartographies workshop, and comprises a professional piano tuner attempting to tune a broken upright piano outdoors in the blazing midday sun. Drawing on the semiotic potential of the piano as a cultural artifact of western colonial origins , this research stages a juxtaposition of the piano and the Australian bush to examine cultural semantics unique to the sites political and spatial contexts.
OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform
Issue 1 (2017): 96–110