Race, Colour, and Identity in Australia and New Zealand

Race, Colour, and Identity in Australia and New Zealand

Race, Colour, and Identity in Australia and New Zealand

Race, Colour, and Identity in Australia and New Zealand

Excerpt

The pictures on the cover of this book are four of the nearly three hundred 'photo puzzles' which make up an exhibition project by German artist Frank Aumüller, entitled C.I.A. (which stands--subversively--not for Central Intelligence Agency but for Cité Internationale des Artistes). During his residency at the Cité Internationale in Paris from 1992 to 1993, Aumüller took photos of the residents and visitors who passed through this pre-eminent, international meeting place in the world of contemporary art. He then cut up the photos and re-assembled the pieces, transferring and re-arranging them from one to another. The resulting 'identity puzzles', which recalled passport photos as much as 'mugshots' or computer-generated 'identikits', revealed a surprising collection of freshly created individuals displaying a mixture of facial features, of race and of gender. In a sometimes subtle, gentle and humorous way, sometimes with a more sinister, ominous and threatening appearance, the puzzles constituted an unusual portrait gallery, an assemblage of multiracial and multinational, constructed personalities of often ambivalent gender and unfathomable ethnic origin.

Aumüller's installation was shown at the Goethe-Institut in Sydney in July-August 1998 as part of an international interdisciplinary conference devoted to the topic of Adventures of Identity--Constructing the Multicultural Subject. As convenors of this event, we could not think of a better project to create a visual surrounding, or theatrical backdrop, to the presentation and discussion of scholarly papers which, from a variety of perspectives, research interests and theoretical premises, explored the often conflicting and contradictory, multidimensional issues of identity formation in post-modern societies.

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