ICOMOS Conference paper
Giving a paper tomorrow at the Australian ICOMOS Conference at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House) on Canberra subcultures in relation to the planned city. ICOMOS is an organisation devoted to cultural heritage philosophy and practice
The Territory is not the map: Canberra’s underground culture
During the conference, the Canberra Museum and Gallery is hosting two unique exhibitions, Massive Love of Risk: the art of Canberra’s Splinters Theatre of Spectacle (1985-98), and Head Full of Flames: punk in the nation’s capital 1977-1990, which are designed not only to display the artefacts and images of two of the main Canberra underground movements of the period but to show and affirm the links to contemporary cultural movements and strengthen them.
The presentation will examine the significance of such movements to Canberra’s cultural life – remarkably quick to take up on ideas from overseas in the days before digital communication, imitating them to begin with but quickly developing their own distinct natures, to the extent that Canberra was known and respected among these subcultures internationally even when the local mainstream was barely aware. All operating to some extent outside the law, making their own rules, they drew alternative maps that were overlaid on this same city that houses the government and diplomats and military, creating liberated enclaves that were hidden from the omnipresent state and, when that state inexorably encroached, simply vanished into the night.
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