Space, Place and Country

Space, Place and Country contributes to thinking about placemaking practices; narratives of place and memory; contemporary art and spatial practices; and the role of the Australian Indigenous concept of ‘country’ for its capacity to make a unique contribution to broader international discourses of ‘place’ and ‘space’.

Space is where objects are found or can be put and events can occur through time. It's where relationships can emerge, but also where they disintegrate. Place is space loaded with memories, stories, built things, repeated practices and ritualised feelings. More than just a container for all these things, though, place can also inform and generate them. Place feels like humanised space. Country is a notion that has come to English-speaking Australians from the explanations and place-maintaining work of Indigenous people all round the continent. Country is a place with life coursing through it, life that is both a natural force and a configuration of culturally produced effects that get socially managed or damaged by everyone abiding in that stretch of country. Country feels like a place where human beings can have a big impact but they are not the main element. Artists all round the world contend with space and experiment with ways to make places. But only in Australia is there the discourse of country. It's a discourse troubled by colonialism and it's not something that's easily or righteously appropriated without arduous work over long stretches of time. But there it is – country – all around us. What might we make of this special situation?