Monday, August 22, 2016

What Happens When White People Get Lost

We have been flying in and out of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (AU).  Locals call us FIFO's to tease us as we are not trades people.  Some fans from remote communities tracked us down and sent us 'an invitation to contribute'.  They are compiling an educational manual on why white people do what they do and are how they are.

As much as we knew that we were the right people for this job we had to ask why we were chosen.  It turns out stories from our category House of Windsor are regularly read and discussed on community radio stations, some of them as far away as the APY Lands.  We're big in the desert.

The mob we are working with have given us 6 months (might be longer) to come up with some stories that 'unpack' the ways of the white fella to help Aboriginal people understand them.  We spent a week out bush on community where we hung back, took notes, kinda just listened.  Conversations ran far into the night, but we never asked direct questions, as we know that to be disrespectful in Aboriginal culture.

It was pretty clear that many of the artists felt that there was something strange about the white women who come to work at the Arts Centres.  They reckon some of them 'jealous*' their art by choosing their colours and telling them what things to paint.  Some are a real downer to be around because they seem guilty all the time and often talk very negatively about their families.  This was really something we could get our teeth into.  On the way back to Alice we were so inspired we pulled the vehicle into the Tropic Of Capricorn and scribbled our first allegory.  We wrote in silence, the only sound to be heard was the wind through the mulgas, like waves on an inland sea.  Here it is:

What Happens When White People Get Lost

Modern white people, particularly those from very rich countries, treat their identity in the same way Aboriginal people relate to the land. They need to feel that they are one by themselves and sometimes because of this other people don't matter. When some white people get lost and go looking for their identity it can make them sick.  White people believe that being in strange places will help them to find themselves.  This is why some of the white people who come to the desert want to hang around Aboriginal people.

* Aboriginal English
 Jealous / Jealousing: abusive, controlling, stopping you doing things.