Thursday 18 May 2006

Crossed messages for craft.

The latest issue of Time Pacific features a lead article about the profile of Aboriginal art in the new Parisian institution, Musee de Quai Branley. In decribing the history of Aboriginal art, Michael Fitzgerald writes: "Adapting the cross-hatch technique of body painting known as rarrk, the son of a shaman's increasingly virtuoso barks have taken what was previously seen as a craft to the exalted realm of fine art." (TIME Pacific Magazine: A Parisian Romance)
However, the From the Editor column at the very front of the issue heralds their award from the American Society of Magazines as a 'triumph of the Newsmagazine's craft'. Why is craft seen a retrograde when applied to Aboriginal culture, while it is the highest of accolades when it comes to Western media? It may an example of the 'status convergence effect', whereby the low status is accorded distinction while the high status is rewarded with the 'common touch'. When will the time come that Aboriginal culture is so secure in its position that it is elevated to the 'exalted realm of craft'?

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