Sorry Business

Authored by: Gillian Whitlock

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415736411
eBook ISBN: 9781315778372
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696285


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In 2010 there was a striking visual representation of transactions of Australian indigenous testimony beyond the nation at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. As part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings in Canada, the gallery featured Cathy Busby’s installation WE ARE SORRY, which presented the text of the apology of the Australian prime minister to the Stolen Generations in Australia alongside the apology to the First Nations on the issue of the Residential Schools in Canada, both offered in 2008. The installation mirrored an earlier synchronic display at the Laneways Commissions project in Melbourne in 2009, where WE ARE SORRY was projected onto the exterior of a power substation. This graphic statement of the proximity of testimonial cultures across two settler nations in the recent past maps ideoscapes and mediascapes that connect testimonial narratives beyond the nation – Busby’s artwork literally projects a response to indigenous testimony onto these geographically remote public spaces to signify a shared history of racialized child removal and founding violence. In this way, it creates a transnational site of witness and an imaginative reconceptualization of space that projects an ethics of witness into the public spaces of very different kinds.

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