Fabricating place story: an experiential approach to imprinting identity in landscape and land-culture.

by Faith Beverley Dent

Institution: Monash University
Department: School of Arts, Media and Social Sciences
Year: 2015
Keywords: Place studies; Migration; Belonging; Landscape; Heritage
Record ID: 1049182
Full text PDF: http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1144111


As a consequence of migration, family, cultural and landscape markers that map heritage and maintain narratives and representations of continuity are disrupted, and can result in fragmented identity, and the loss of a sense of place and belonging. This research explores whether in a post-colonial and post-modernist society displacement can be mitigated by the performance of place: imprinting landscape and learning land-culture in personal spaces/places and heritage sites. The point of stability and continuity in a post-colonial context it is proposed can be found in one’s relationship with the landscape/place. My interest is in an embodied experience of the places and landscapes of my heritage in an attempt to work with and through displacement and find an identity that will sustain my living in Australia. This thesis, therefore, intends to make a contribution to the understanding and knowledge of the interdisciplinary studies of migrancy, identity-formation and place-making in the field of Place Studies, with an interwoven arts-practice that expresses an emotional/embodied response to landscape/place experience. I have named the multi-method narrative/experiential, post-qualitative approach as an embodied-kinaesthetic methodology. The implications are that the methods employed have restorative and dynamic capacities as an everyday practice of landscape/place experience in finding belonging and identity as an ongoing practice. The themes that I negotiate focus on landscape/place as the arena where issues of migration, transition and transformation are played out. I explore my heritage as multi-layered: formative and forming of my identity in each of the locations from which my forebears hailed, in Europe, South Africa and Australia, to retrieve snapshots of recorded/archival history and fabricate a new place-story in an embodied performative experience of place-making and identity formation. As I recognise that the processes are contingent and always partial, my interest is in enunciating and testing an approach where the researcher is the researched. The pro-active methods employed include: embodied knowing, visual knowing, and textual/oral knowing and an interwoven arts-practice. My encounters with landscape/place are analysed through the fractal nature of place, with identity and belonging traced thematically in what I call: the Seven Marks of Place: landmarks, placemarks, pathmarks, stretchmarks, crossmarks, stitchmarks and bookmarks; and in the conclusion I discuss benchmarks: where I am up to in my research. Place-story is fabricated/fabric-ated – hyphenated to designate the processes of fabric art and embodied actions that leave an impression beyond the immediate event – with the dual meaning of fabrication: made up and made into, kept open and organic in its interpretation.