Accepted Paper:

'Telling it like it is': Aboriginal young people, cultural connections and digital storytelling  

Author:

Fran Edmonds (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines a digital storytelling project among Aboriginal young people in southeast Australia as a way of supporting contemporary Aboriginal youth culture. It explores intercultural and decolonizing approaches to assist youth engagement with museums' collections and cultural institutions.

Paper long abstract:

In 2017, a group of Aboriginal young people from southeast Australia were included in the groundbreaking Sovereignty exhibition, the first survey of southeast Australian Aboriginal art to be held at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, located in central Melbourne. The young people's artworks consisted of a series of visually creative digital stories, the result of a three-year Australian Research Council Linkage Project. While the exhibition enhanced opportunities for the broader public to engage with and gain deeper understandings of the history and diversity of Aboriginality in the southeast, for the young participants involved, their digital stories also represented new assertions of contemporary Aboriginal youth culture. The short videos and creative digital imagery, inspired by engagement with material culture from museums' collections, were immediately appealing and recognisable forms of knowledge transmission for young audiences. Yet, they also provided insights to methods of representation that Aboriginal youth are using to explore their identities and culture, in a region where Aboriginality is frequently contested and considered inauthentic.

This paper will discuss the intersection between the making of the digital stories as new forms of creative cultural production, alongside the implementation of a collaborative and community-based methodology, that fostered intercultural and intergenerational knowledge exchange. Participant's engagement with museums' collections and exhibiting of their digital stories in Sovereignty, also prompted questions about the tensions and possibilities of decolonizing cultural institutions to support Indigenous young people's cultural knowledge, their experiences and ambitions, and their ongoing interaction in the sector.

Panel P010
Australian Aboriginal artists, the archive and cross-cultural collaborations