Emily Kame Kngwarreye and the undeconstructible space of justice

Sat, 22/06/2013 - 14:27 -- damien

In the chapter 'Do Dual Organisations Exist?' of his Structural Anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss takes up the case of a tribe of North American Indians, the Winnebago of the Great Lakes, who possess two different ways of mapping their village. One section of the tribe, let us call it "conservative", perceives the layout of the village as circular, with rings of huts successively arranged, in decreasing order of importance, around the moiety chief's central temple. The other section of the tribe, let us call it "radical", sees the social space of the village as split, with distinct clusters of huts separated by an invisible boundary. Where does the truth lie here? Although it is tempting simply to fly a helicopter over the village to ascertain its "objective" state, Levi-Strauss cautions against this. For him, neither factual evidence nor mere relativism, in which we say that reality depends upon which side of the village we come from, is sufficient. Rather, the "truth" of the village is this traumatic split in its social fabric, a split with which both plans, in their way, attempt to deal (the first by denying it altogether; the second by representing this division, which is precisely not an objective state of affairs realised by all). Both sides speak the "truth" of the situation, but only in a symptomatic, unconscious manner. In other words, they speak it by not speaking it. It is their dissimulation which is revealing. Levi-Strauss concludes: 'The study of so-called dual organisations discloses so many anomalies and contradictions in relation to extant theory that we should be well advised to reject the theory and to treat the apparent manifestations of duality as superficial distortions of structures whose real nature is quite different and vastly more complex' .1

This example has recently been taken up by the social theorist Slavoj Zizek in an effort to elaborate Lacan's notion of the Real. The Real is not some object out there in "reality", but instead is what is excluded to allow that reality to be produced. The perhaps surprising equivalent Zizek gives in our supposedly post-ideological times is the Marxist idea of class struggle. Why is class struggle an instance of what Lacan calls the Real? Because - just as with the social situation of that village above, which of course is a perfect embodiment of it - in any attempt to speak of class struggle we always have to take sides; there is no way of balancing conflicting views to take all into account. That is, although we can never entirely say what class struggle is, every statement about it is necessarily subject to it; our attitude towards it is not objective, but an effect of the very phenomenon we are seeking to analyse. As Zizek writes: 'Class struggle is none other than the name for the unfathomable limit that cannot be objectivised, located within the social totality, since it is itself that limit which prevents us from conceiving society as a closed totality'.2 And insofar as this is so, then the attempt to dismiss class, to argue it is no longer relevant, is the most ideological stance of all. How then to speak of class, to analyse its effects, without all the biases implied by ideology itself? Zizek does not deny wanting to do this; his is not the old Althusserian position of 'all is ideology'. However, in a more complicated strategy, he argues that, although we must try to occupy this neutral point, we must also realise we can never do so. We must attempt to occupy this neutral point, but only to ensure that no one (else) is able to do so: 'Ideology is not all; it is possible to assume a place that enables us to maintain a distance from it, but this place from which one can denounce ideology must remain empty, it cannot be occupied by any positively determined reality-the moment we yield to this temptation, we are back in ideology '.3

Of course, for "us" Australians it is Aborigines who are our Real. And Real in that there is no neutral meta-position with regard to them, no "objective" truth that can be spoken about them, not even by Aborigines themselves. (Those who believe they speak non-ideologically, non-racially, are the most ideological and racist of all, for example, the Federal Liberal Government in talking about striking a "balance" between competing interests, representing "all" Australians, etcetera.) With regard to Aborigines, we necessarily go either too far or not far enough. And this is always the problem of the "other". Anthropologists in their studies have designated two possible attitudes towards "primitive" cultures: the emic and the etic. The emic attempts to see things from the point of view of the tribal participants themselves, to enter as far as possible into their world. The etic acknowledges that we cannot do this, that we are only able to perceive things through our own (European) point of view. Both attitudes, in a way, seek a form of knowledge: the first believes that we can translate tribal experiences into Western terms; the second that, if we cannot do so, we can at least think this. But, as we see in the famous debate between the curator William Rubin and the critic Thomas McEvilley over the exhibition 'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and Modern at New York's Museum of Modem Art, the two attitudes cannot be separated; this scientific ideal cannot be maintained.4 The most emic response is revealed as etic, ultimately only a reflection of white preconceptions. And the etic response, the admission that we cannot say anything about the other, only hides the even deeper belief that we can. This is the true problem of the other in discourse: not that we cannot represent it, but that we already have done so, that it is implied from the beginning in whom we are.

This was the daring aspect of the recent Queensland Art Gallery show of the works of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Alhalkere: Paintings from Utopia. The strength of the exhibition, paradoxically, was its willingness to take sides, or more exactly its refusal to balance perspectives, to provide some final synthesis. Rather, it simply presented these alternatives -the emic and the etic - and revealed that the truth was not to be attained by either of them, that each was caught up in the other it sought to avoid. As a result, the show escaped the two obvious rhetorics regarding the putting of Aboriginal art into the museum: both the unambiguous celebration of its maker and the ethnographical critique from the outside. Instead, something far more uncanny and disturbing was produced (and rare, despite virtually all contemporary art being devoted to the task): a profoundly anti-museological show held within a museum. That is, curator Margo Neale did a very brave thing here - and its power lies in the fact that we don't know whether to congratulate her for it or not, whether it was accidental or deliberate - in that she did not, unlike her more timid colleagues, attempt to pre-empt or forestall criticism, meet in advance objections of assimilating, appropriating Kngwarreye, etcetera. On the contrary, she allowed that this was inevitable - and thus in her way, like the artist, ended up creating something new (the aim of all good curators). The show did not try to master the impossible Real of Aboriginality, occupy some neutral position in relation to it, but was both the effect of it and brought it about in its failure to represent it. In this - in a final paradox - it both grasped the methodological dilemma at stake in any approach to Kngwarreye's work and understood itself as necessarily unable to do so.

Take, for instance, the sheer profusion and range of works selected (some one hundred and ninety paintings, batiks and ceremonial objects produced over a ten year period). At the same time, and contradictorily, we were presented with an image of extraordinary formal inventiveness, an untutored native genius able to ring almost unlimited changes on a restricted iconography, and of an overworked and exploited old black woman, pushed by the economic needs of her tribe, mercenary art dealers and, indeed, the whole museological apparatus itself into over-production, for whom the whole aesthetic distinction between good and bad works of art was simply not relevant. And this dichotomy was brought out at every stage of the show's installation and hanging. At once we had the Utopia Room, with its ceremonial objects, Inentye figurines and videos detailing the ethnographic background to Kngwarreye 's practice, and the mounting of the twenty-two panels of the Alhalkere Suite in an imposing minimalist grid, or the positioning of the striped Utopia Panels above the water mall, turning them into a form of interior decoration in a Monet-like play on reflected light.* Or the exhibition spoke of the tribal body painting origins of the early batiks and suspended one of them from the roof like the banners announcing an international blockbuster. In fact, this was typical of the hanging of the whole show, with works from different periods but of the same size being grouped together for formal purposes (for example, the three batiks of 1981, 1988 and 1988 in the left hand corner of the top gallery) or the monumentalising black frames around the final, almost diaphanous canvases of late 1996.5 In a way, it was through the very "museumisation" of the work-rather than being offered some neutral distance onto it-that we most felt its foreignness to the whole Western critical enterprise.

We see the same thing in the conflicting approaches of the various catalogue essays, which again were not so much contextualised as simply presented. On the one hand, that is, we have universalizing and totalising responses, which emphasise the essential "sameness" of Kngwarreye 's art to European and American models, its ability to cross cultural divides. Typical of this is Aboriginal art dealer Christopher Hodges' 'Alhalkere ', which stresses, apparently on the basis of conversations with the artist herself, Kngwarreye's 'confidence in the power of her art as a communicative device' ,6 to speak 'directly without the need for language' (38). Or we have the formalist-modernist reading of the Senior Research Curator of Australian Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Judith Ryan in her essay "'In the Beginning is My End": The Singular Art of Emily Kame Kngwarreye' , which in its very title, a quotation from T. S. Eliot's 4 Quartets, indicates both the series of parallels that will be drawn to modernist masters (Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline) and its autonomous, teleological grasp of Kngwarreye's oeuvre, with its deliberate bracketing of any Aboriginal "content": 'The paintings do not encode narrative or, if they do, we are none the wiser' (41). On the other hand, art consultant and researcher, Anne Marie Brody emphasises in her predominantly ethnographical account (despite her own undeniably close contact with the Utopia community) the essential unknowability of Kngwarreye, her distance from European ways of thinking about art. Or Neale's own essay for the collection, 'Two Worlds: One Vision', once more evokes the "otherness" of Kngwarreye 's work, its intractability to Western modes of description and evaluation: [Her ability to capture] 'the soul of her 'country ' ... is beyond the linguistic impasse that prevents us from articulating the full power of her work' (31). Finally, these two positions are brought together in urban Aboriginal lecturer Philip Morrissey's essay, 'Emily Kame Kngwarreye Meets the Metropolitan', in which he attempts to delineate a position for Kngwarreye as being at once the most authentic and indigenous to this country and the most alien and exotic (perhaps the very position of Morrissey himself as urban Aboriginal- and the crucial aspect of Morrissey's essay is that this 'irreconcilable' (56) split between black and white understandings of Aborigines, the impossibility of adopting a neutral position, is seen to apply to Aborigines themselves). He writes: 'As an Aboriginal person with no direct experience of traditional Aboriginal culture, I was challenged by the invitation to write on Emily Kame Kngwarreye. There was always the risk of entering into bad faith by pretending to be what I wasn't. Yet I also felt that I was too closely involved by virtue of my Aboriginality to carry off a sympathetic, if detached, narration which ignored my own personal involvement in any consideration of Emily' .7

However, it is with Roger Benjamin's essay for the catalogue, 'A New Modernist Hero', that all these issues come to a head. In it, the contradiction that was perhaps implicit in those others becomes for the first time explicit, self-conscious. Benjamin begins by wanting to explain what he sees as Kngwarreye’s extraordinary-and, indeed, unique-success for an Aboriginal artist in the Western art world, such that, a few short years after abandoning batik and taking up painting, she was able to eclipse her countrymen like Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Michael Nelson Tjakamarra. He provides in his essay five possible reasons for this success- and what he seeks to do by means of them is show that it can be accounted for by the way her work fits the pre-existing discursive conventions or "myths" governing Western art. For example, under the head of the 'abstract disposition' (47-48), Benjamin notes that, unlike the marks symbolizing waterholes or animal tracks in traditional desert painting , Kngwarreye's non-iconic stipples and swathes can easily be assimilated to contemporary taste, reminding viewers of similar "all-over" works by such Abstract Expressionists as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Jules Olitski. Or, under the head of 'productivity and old age' (49-50), Benjamin speaks of the way Kngwarreye's taking up of art at an advanced age and her constant shifts of style resonate with the legend of those rare great talents whose faculties are unimpaired by the passing of the years and whose approaching mortality grants special insight (Titian, Rembrandt, Henri Matisse, Philip Guston). Or, finally, under the head of the 'cult of spiritual meaning ' (52), Benjamin argues that the tribal lore apparently encoded in Kngwarreye's canvases distinguishes her from the apparent lack of content in her post-modernist peers and aligns her instead with the original spiritual impulses of the pioneering generation of abstractionists (Kasimir Malevich, Mark Rothko, Bamett Newman).

In terms of his analysis, Benjamin is undoubtedly correct. As we have already seen- and as further reading would reveal-assumptions regarding Western art are constantly being made about Kngwarreye. In an accusation that goes all the way back to McEvilley's critique of the 'Primitivism' show, they all commit the error of 'isomorphism ' (53), the bel ief that just because two works of art look the same they mean the same thing. In fact, as Benjamin observes in his essay, the supposed "universality" this points to is not universal at all, but only a European (and perhaps even more localised) projection: 'It remains to be seen whether art experts in Munich or Boston, let alone Nairobi or Beijing, will recognise the 'greatness' of this art' (53). Against this, Benjamin proposes another kind of art criticism, one more 'attuned to Aboriginal cultural values; to begin with, an informed sense of what her painting means within [Kngwarreye' s] own community, and the development of alternatives to the formalist and biographical readings that so far dominate approaches to her work' (53). And, in a sense, we cannot but agree. It is true that Western categories misrepresent Aboriginal art. It is true that another criticism, one more attuned to Aboriginal values, is necessary. Nevertheless - and this is not so much a personal criticism of Benjamin as a testament to the difficulty of the issues he raises, an inquiry into the meaning of a certain failure - why does this conclusion still strike us as so arbitrary and tacked on, a compromise perhaps to the forces of "political correctness" or the desire not to offend? Why does this call for another criticism seem like a contradiction of all that came before, impossible within-or at least unprepared for by-the terms previously set up? We must ask: if Benjamin is so critical of those other approaches, in the name of what does he speak? If this is in fact the way we do think, from where could this alternative arise?

Put simply, the problem with Benjamin's analysis is that, on the one hand, he is profoundly able to challenge the ability of Western artistic categories to think about Kngwarreye's work, to demonstrate that something goes missing; and yet, on the other hand, he is unable to propose any concrete terms for this "more attuned" criticism beyond the mere invocation of one. Why? Because no matter how he attempted to do so, how he sought to make it more substantial, it would always stand accused - as he is able to show so well with those other critics - of once again repeating European biases. And this is always the problem for those who actually attempt to produce this emic response, one more allied to Aboriginal values. Take, for instance, The Sydney Morning Herald critic John McDonald, who, in the course of a generally sympathetic review of the show, wrote of Benjamin 's essay: 'After spending an entire essay discussing modernist attitudes in relation to numerous Western artists, all [he] can do is emphasise the inadequacy of existing approaches, including his own. There is a slightly absurd aspect to the attempt to deconstruct Kngwarreye's art or career. The artist herself obviously had clear ideas about what she was doing-so clear, they hardly permitted explanation. She didn't require dozens of pages to say "Whole lot"'. 8 In fact, we would say that McDonald has it exactly wrong here, in that the most valuable aspect of Benjamin' s essay is the hesitation or silence it manages to open up and its weakest is its desire immediately to fill it in. (And McDonald's own attempt to use Kngwarreye's well-known statement 'Whole lot' as some self-evident explanation of the work only serves to demonstrate his own inability to do so.) More precisely, although we must always attempt to substantialise this alternative- and in a way already have- we must also, as Zizek says, keep it open, ensure that this critique from the 'empty point' of the other always remains possible. That is to say, the real position of this Aboriginal "other" is not, or not only, to be found "out there" in the world or in some radically new speaking position, but in the breakdowns and inadequacies of language "in here". This "alternative" Benjamin calls for lies not in the suggestion made in the essay's epilogue, but rather in the impossible-ethical position that allows him to speak of the limitations to the Western conception of Kngwarreye's art, to achieve some critical distance upon his own practice as a white art historian, in the essay's first part.

It is just this split or division we see in Kngwarreye's work. Although there is a massive effort in the catalogue to render her work representational, with photos of anthills or flowers in bloom next to one of her 'dump-dump' paintings, or of gum trees reflected in water next to one of her final "impressionist" canvases, we would say that what occurs there is instead the (unrepresentational) act of spacing. In her work, the various lines or stripes simply divide up or create a space. Indeed, we would suggest that the ultimate trajectory of her work is from objects being depicted within a pre-existing space, to objects and space having no particular relationship, to objects and space being grasped all at once.9 It is in this sense that we would say that Kngwarreye is Australian, carries on the discoveries of Nolan, Williams, Burn and Tillers: her work is the impossible depiction of a void or distance not merely between this country and others but within this country itself. But, of course, to the very extent that Kngwarreye now enters this canon, we must retro spectively re-read this Australian void or space as that between Aborigines and whites. And the crucial point to be made about Kngwarreye's black and white compositions is that, to the extent that figure and ground are henceforth indivisible, it is impossible to say which comes first. There is no pre-existing ground that would allow us to compare them. They are at once inseparable and irreconcilable - and we could write an entire essay on the relationship between the colours black and white and their equivalents in Kngwarreye's work as the direct expression of the relationship between the races in Australia.

In fact-and all this is a suggestion for more work to be done in the future-we would want to think this space between black and white in Kngwarreye's work in the closest relationship to the law (and we know the connection these stripe paintings have to women's body marking ceremonies, that is to say, to Aboriginal law). How to think this space in terms of the law? How to think this space as the very space of the law? In order to answer these questions , we might turn to a number of recent jurisprudential writings arising out of the High Court's landmark Mabo decision. For there too we saw precisely the attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable, to think this impossible space between cultures. More specifically, what was at stake in Mabo was how to provide justice to Aborigines within the Western legal system, to recognise a version of native title within an English-based common law. One of the more ambitious attempts to think the notion of justice implied there is by Professor of Law at Adelaide University, M. J. Detmold, in his article 'Law and Difference: Reflections on Mabo's Case', where he writes of the paradoxical nature of what he calls 'stopping-points' in legal decisions, those things that cannot be questioned to allow legally binding verdicts to be made. An example of this in Mabo is the High Court's unwillingness to open up for questioning the British Crown's claiming of sovereignty over the country so that the High Court itself remained empowered to make a decision concerning native title. For Detmold, insofar as law is always a process of 'recognising difference', it is always a matter of overturning these 'stoppingpoints' (the non-recognition of native title), but this could only be done in the name of another such 'stopping-point' (the refusal to recognise Aboriginal sovereignty). He writes: 'The process of distinguishing (the recognition of difference) is the common law's (and law's) essence. No common law statement is ever final, ever a (univocal) stopping-point; but is always available for reconsideration by virtue of a difference in the next case. Nor is it even right to think of a series of common law cases as a series of absolute stopping-points. The process is a process of difference, and lies (rather, moves) between the points' .10

This line of inquiry is also pursued by the political philosopher Paul Patton, who finds a similar intuition in Derrida in his reading of a famous short story by Kafka, 'Before the Law'. For Derrida, we are always 'before the law' in the sense that we have already been judged, a decision has already been made; and we are 'before the law' in that justice has not been reached, there is always a certain forcing and injustice in any decision. Law, therefore, as with Detmold, is not an all or nothing affair, cannot be rendered all at once - hence the whole thematics in Kafka of the ' intermediaries' or 'gatekeepers' of the law 11 - but ongoing, a sort of perpetually receding 'horizon ' or 'a-venir' .12 Particular judicial decisions both contest and re-affirm the law. Justice is both attained and deferred. This is to be seen in the Mabo decision, which is both just (in that it grants to Aborigines certain rights to land which hitherto had not been recognised in Australian law) and unjust (in that these rights can still be extinguished according to Australian law). As Patton writes, citing Derrida: 'Justice is realised in the Mabo decision to the extent that judgements of fact and law, which in the past have prevented forms of native title to land from being recognised and protected, are no longer permitted to hold sway. Justice is not realised to the extent that Australian law still falls short of recognizing indigenous law as another legal system. Justice therefore reveals itself to be isomorphic to differance: at once present and absent in this historic judgement' .13

How to apply this to Kngwarreye? In one sense, there is always a certain judgement made, some attempt to speak for the other. There is always a particular case before us (the etic can always be shown to be emic). Against this, it is always a matter of another judgement, an attempt to show that this stopping- point is not a proper consideration of the difference of the other, is unjust. And it is only through this more "attuned", emic criticism that justice is to be attained. But at the same time it can always be shown that this judgement is only ever in the name of another such stopping-point. Justice can never be finally arrived at. Every attempt at reconciliation is always revealed as no reconciliation. This is why the accusation of speaking in the name of the "other" can always be made - as we see today in almost every conference involving post-colonial or cross-cultural theory - but also why no one should ever think they are beyond this (even those " others" themselves). For precisely every attempt actually to produce this alternative ends up in self-contradiction; the emic can always be shown to be etic. However, as Derrida argues, without foregoing the necessity for actual decisions, it is perhaps in this very uncertainty, the sense that something is missing without being able to say what, the unsatisfactoriness of all existing positions without being able to provide an alternative, that the possibility of justice is to be found-and that we might say the encounter with Kngwarreye's work forces us to experience. As he writes in another of his essays, 'Force of Law: "The Mystical Foundation of Authority"': 'I think that there is no justice without this experience, however impossible it may be, of aporia. Justice is an experience of the impossible. A will, a desire, a demand for justice whose structure wouldn't be an experience of aporia would have no chance to be what it is, namely, a call for justice.' 14 (This is why, again, that radical new speaking position for which Benjamin calls is not to be found "out there", but "in here", in the flaws, inconsistencies- to use Neale's word-impasses of our own language, which is why we have paid such close attention to the various texts we have cited here.) In the name of what do we respond in Kngwarreye's work? What is it that makes us want to render justice to this old Aboriginal woman who made it? We perhaps cannot say, but the feeling is inexhaustible. Already realised yet unrealisable, forcing a decision and yet leaving us unable to proceed, making us desire to speak its truth but with every such attempt contestable as "ideology", is this not the very pressure of the Real as diagnosed by Zizek? Or is it not, as Derrida says, justice itself as the final "reality", what lies beyond deconstruction itself? 'Justice in itself, if such a thing exists, outside or beyond law, is not deconstructible'.15

notes: 

1. Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, Basic Books, London, 1963, p. 161.

2. Slavoj Zizek, Mapping Ideology, Verso Books, London, 1994, p. 22.

3. ibid, p, 17.

4. See on this William Rubin, 'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art: Affinity of the Tribal and Modern Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984; Thomas McEvilley, 'Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief', Artforum, November 1984; and two further exchanges of letters (Artforum, February 1985 and May 1985). A similar debate also took place in Australia between Tony Fry and Anne-Marie Willis ('Aboriginal Art: Symptom or Success?', Art in America, July 1989) and Roger Benjamin ('Aboriginal Art: Exploitation or Empowerment?', Art in America, July 1990).

5. Another aspect of Kngwarreye's art worth commenting on in this regard is the way she increasingly came to internalise the vertical hanging of the museum as opposed to the horizontality of Aboriginal ground painting; or at least the verticality of the original body paintings and batiks became indistinguishable from the verticality required by the museum (for example, the dripping purple of a 1996 Untitled or the dangling roots of a number of smaller "yam" paintings).

6. Christopher Hedges, 'Aihalkere', in Emily Kame Kngwarreye-Aihalkere: Paintings from Utopia, ed. Margo Neale, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1998, p, 33. All further references to this catalogue will appear in brackets within the main text.

7. ibid, p. 55. The suggestive aspect of Morrissey's paper is that it is not simply a cancelling out of opposites, but an impossible meeting of them across a void. The two are not the same; but each at its limit reveals itself as the other: the most extreme decontextualisation of Aboriginal art ensures its survival; the inhabitants of big-city megalopolises will discover for themselves the privations of desert life; Kngwarreye is at once the most pristine embodiment of a pure Aboriginality and a hyper-urban black or white. Morrissey concludes with a brilliant paradox: 'The realization that we are not merely what is perceived by others, or that social relations in the workplace do not define the sum of who we are, may be- like the victim strategy-a position which only seems attractive when no others are available. Yet this knowledge, formerly limited to prisoners and Trappist monks, is I suggest now becoming part of ordinary life. One of the reasons for the seductive power of slogans such as Nike's 'Just do it' is the positing of personal agency and transcendence in the face of structural barriers which, while apparently insurmountable, are not infinite. A life in extremis in the desert, in the city-the Kngwarreye phenomenon encompasses both' (57·8). There is no time to comment on this passage in detail, but one of its most intriguing features is the "performative", self-creating notion of Aboriginality implied there: 'Just do it'.

8. John McDonald, 'Eyeing the Dots', The Sydney Morning Herald, 4/4/98, p. 14s. We also see the same difficulty in Michelle McDonald, 'The Problem of Criticism: Emily Kame Kngwarreye', Art Monthly, April1998, pp. 20-21.

9. See on this, Terry Smith, 'Kngwarreye Woman Abstract Painter', in Emily Kngwarreye

Paintings, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1997, p. 28, although we think we go further than Smith in stressing the indivisibility of figure and ground in Kngwarreye's work. In terms of this problematic, we would want to read a number of articles on Barnett Newman: Kenneth Baker's 'Reckoning with Notation: Pollock, Newman, Louis', Artforum, Summer 1980, where he writes: 'Newman's unerring feel for scale makes his works on paper seem composed in black and white rather than black on white' (p. 35); W. D. Bannard's 'Touch and Scale: Cubism, Pollock and Still', Artforum, June 1971; and Newman's own interview with Dorothy Seckler, 'The Frontiers of Space', Art in America, Summer 1962.

10. M. S. Detmold, 'Law and Difference: Reflections on Mabo's Case', Sydney Law Review, Vol. 15, No.2, 1993, p. 164.

11. Jacques Derrida, 'Before the Law', in Acts of Literature, ed. Derek Atridge, Routledge, New York, 1992, pp. 208-209.

12. Jacques Derrida, 'Force of Law: "The Mystical Foundation of Authority"', in Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice, eds. Drucilla Cornell, Michel Rosenfeld and David Gray Carlson, Routledge, New York, 1992, p. 27.

13. Paul Patton, 'Mabo, Difference and the Body of the Law', in Thinking Through the Body of the Law, eds. Pheng Cheah, David Fraser and Judith Grabich, Alien and Unwin, Sydney, 1996,

p. 55. See also Patton's 'Justice and Difference: The Mabo Case', in Transformations in

Australian Society, University of Sydney, 1997, pp. 95·6. The Aboriginal lawyer Noel Pearson also shares the same "gradualist" conception of justice. See his 1993 Boyer Lecture, 'Towards Respecting Equality and Difference', ABC Books, 1993, esp. p. 101.

14. Derrida, op. cit., p.16

15. ibid, p. 14.