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The essay "Trucanini Art" Discuss the art of Trucanini in terms of the power of the documentary image. Trucanini was the most famous Tasmanian Aborigine and this was as a result of her association with George Augustus Robinson a Methodist brick layer who later began to protect the natives. …
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Trucanini Trucanini There are several paintings and arts on Trucanini and her companions as they were among those who survived theinitial constraints of colonization on Tasmania Island. From the images presented by various artists, scholars are able to understand how European invaders viewed Tasmanians at the time of their invasion of the island. Trucanini was the most famous Tasmanian Aborigine and this was as a result of her association with George Augustus Robinson a Methodist brick layer who later began to protect the natives. Trucanini was born and lived on the Bruny Island - an island that had become a focal point for exploration by the Europeans. The Tasmanians then, were known to be flourishing, friendly and accommodating, a habit that made it rare for them to fight with the Europeans and other communities. However, with time, European diseases and invasion reduced their population to 250 people. They had a culture different from other communities and such distinct features led to the now modern paintings we have. The European explorers expected that they would come into contact with the hierarchical structures and the social class systems. This made them to have inappropriate facilities that would enable them handle the natives. During the 18th century, most individuals were viewed as being the noble savage since they were heroic as they were close to nature and not accompanied by complexions of civilizations (Marien, 2002). Such character is evident in the engravings made by the artists. They would employ techniques that would depict them with the heroic methods employed to ensure that they were not oppressed by the Europeans. The engravers had acute knowledge about the classical sculpture from which he would apply in their art work. As for Trucanini it was a water color work by Thomas Bock in 1830. The Trucanini image is one woman who is trying to come to terms with the frequent changes in the world which to her she cannot manage to change them. On the face the woman appears to have given up but the youthful beauty is still evident. The image depicts her as seated looking at the viewer with a traditional shell necklace and on her shoulders is the kangaroo skin. The photographic images were limited in the sense that by the time, the era of photography arrived in Tasmania in 1858 most of the population was dead a reason that explains why it was difficult to retrieve records. To add to this, during the colonial period there were a few artists and therefore the paintings were rare to find since they were not free to settle near the culture of civilized individuals. There were only two portfolios of Tasmian Aborigines that were known to these artists. The water color paintings would indicate women who had their hair shaved and only a circle of hair was left round the head while for the men they were bearded, unshaven hair and had no necklace (Lines, 1991). Given the poor rate of photography the power of the image of Trucanini was not portrayed well. For instance in the first portfolio, it was an amateur painting and sketch which were photographed in a squalid condition where the Trucanini are depicted as being comfortable with no hesitation. They have resigned to submit to the idea of imprisonment that was presented to them by the European colonies. No effort has been made by the photographers to arrange them in a formal way. The photographs have adopted a social viewpoint since the Aborigines valued their culture more during this period. Through the social viewpoint, the photograph manages to overcome the atmosphere of melancholy over the already condemned people of Bruny Island. The photographs are able to appreciate and celebrate the dying era of the noble savage. This made photography to become a vital aspect in establishment of the empire in the 19th century. This is evident with reference to the second portfolio of photograph that was taken by Charles Woolley who mostly concentrated on the colonies and their families. He took photographs of the few remaining Tasmanian at the island (Shoemaker, 2004). He rejected the oyster cove as a method of photography so as to avoid the negative rejection by the public. She produced a portrait of Trucanini one that isolated her from the traditional roots that were present in the island. She was made to correct the initial misunderstanding that had been presented by the previous portraits. They had started to dress in the European dresses, a sign that civilization was underway as they had even gone ahead to associate themselves with them. Since photographs depicted an era of evolution, it was an eye opener to the residents on the island to come up with the several administrative units on the island in order to have law and order. With the empires they were able to organize themselves into several defensive groups so as to protect themselves from attacks by Europeans. It was evident that diseases that had attacked them reduced their population drastically. It was easy for European colonies to rule the lesser population by introducing divide and rule policy and therefore without laying down proper strategies then the island would be overtaken by the colonial powers. Some of the people on the island had started to shift away from their tradition to adopt the tradition n introduced by the European (Marien, 2002). In some photographs, there were pictures that were taken when some of the people were dressed in European dresses. Others had shifted their religious interests to become Christians. With the empire, it would dictate what was to be done by its members. The photographs helped them to understand the living standards that had been experienced before by the previous generation’s one where individuals dictated their own lifestyles. With the arrival of the Europeans, Tasmania was isolated and the expeditions led to the death of many. Having presented the photographs of women who were almost naked and men who had been imprisoned by the colonies, there was need to reestablish their stand on how they would protect themselves from the colonialists. Conclusion From the discussion above, it is clear that in order to understand the Tasmanian Aborigines, one has to refer to several sources including the paintings, sculpture and photographs. Photographs by Thomas Book depict Trucanini as young and one full of vitality while for Charles Woolley shows her as having grown old and full of sadness. The decisions made by the photographer will indicate how the pictures will be presented and how they will be interpreted by the viewer. Interpretation of the photographs therefore helped the people on the island to understand themselves. References Marien, M.W. (2002). Photography: a cultural history. London. Lawrence King Publishers. Shoemaker, A. (2004). Black words, white page: Aboriginal literature 1929-1988. Australia ANU E Press. Lines, J.W. (1991). Taming the great south land: a history of the conquest of nature in Australia California. University of California Press. Read More
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