Dominic Redfern (RMIT)
2020 Conference

In the midst of COVID, during a year in which artists and art educators were beset by an unsympathetic, even hostile, federal government this paper takes a deep history perspective to seek affirmation of our role in society. It charts an evolutionary approach to the question of what art does and suggests it as a means to work through the current anxieties that beset our species. A utopian vision of sorts, it is an approach that emphasises the significance of forms and traditions that exist beyond the academy: both pre-modern and contemporary. Drawing upon work from the intersection of sociology and philosophy, such as that of Ellen Dissayanake and Katja Mandoki, the paper emphasises the folk dimension of creative practice to reconsider our approach to aesthetic values and judgments. As a position it stresses a renewed modesty and localism in arts practice that plays against the global and spectacular trajectories that have characterised so much that has been celebrated in the age of the biennale. As such it seeks the empowerment of everyday artists to process challenges to our world and affirm our place within it.

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About the author

Dominic Redfern is an artist and academic whose work addresses social and natural histories and the manner in which they are enmeshed: ecologies within urban environments; how geography impacts land use; the fuzzy boundary between the artificial and the natural; between the human and non-human. Dominic is always interested in origins and his key interests are evolution, geography and biology. He typically works with video in multi-screen installations, but also makes single channel and live screen works. Across his career his work has been supported by all three levels of government in Australia from various municipalities on up to the Australian Research Council as well the Australia Council for the Arts and state arts funding bodies. Dominic has undertaken residencies and site-responsive projects in Brazil, the USA, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Germany and France. He is an Associate Professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, where he teaches in the School of Art.