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The VASA Project : Photography as Classification and Creation of Indigenous ‘Other’


The VASA Project has just published a study on the photography of Australian Aborigines.
It is titled: Photography as Classification and Creation of Indigenous ‘Other’ and produced by Alexandra Guerman.
VASA entrusted us with these images and this text!

The camera became instrumental during this period aiding the process of classification and observation. “Everything was a subject to scientific scrutiny including the study of human beings.”[v] There were different types of photographers operating in the new colony at the time, ranging from amateur “week-end” anthropologists, professional ethnographers working in the field and salon portraiture in the style of carte de visite.

All of whom felt the urgency to document the “dying race” before its finite extinction. The general belief that the dying race was a natural process, was predominantly based on social Darwinism notion of “survival of the fittest.” Central to this, was the theory of evolution that regarded non-European races as infantile and at the beginning of their development along the lineal historic axis.

… Over the last two centuries the image of the ‘other’ has been engrained into the psyche of Aboriginal people leaving them to fight the disproportionate battle for self-representation. The last several decades has seen a shift towards decolonial movements, in attempt to disrupt colonial and settler-colonial logic. As part of this movement, active repatriation process has swept through cultural institution all over the globe, in the hope to provide closure to the communities that experienced loss and oppression. Another aspect of decolonisation is new mode of self-representation and identity-formation to counter previously manufactured damaging stereotypes. The numerous deceptive representations of Aboriginal people have served as a wealth of inspiration for contemporary photographers and media artist, which continue to inspire and motivate strong political, humorous and powerful re-representations. By choosing to work with photography the artists reclaim the medium that was responsible for misinformation and control over Aboriginal people since the nineteenth century.

Alexandra Guerman and VASA


The VASA Project is an online center for media studies. The VASA mission is to provide a internet platform for disseminating the work of theorist and image makers on a global scale. The VASA community shares an interest in media studies, photography, film/video and sound.
To meet its mission, VASA supports online curated exhibitions; film/video screenings; the Journal on Images and Culture; VASA Front Page Exhibitions and other projects.
The VASA Project was founded in July of 2009 and is directed by its founder Roberto Muffoletto.
VASA curators, editors, design and production team and contributors are all volunteers. VASA hosts no ads, is not supported by grants or sells anything.
VASA is a non-profit making organization.

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