Mapping Landscapes and Memories
This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.
Imagine the document you have before you is not a book but a map. It is well-used, creased, and folded, so that when you open it, no matter how carefully, something tears and a line that is neither latitude nor longitude opens in the hidden geography of the place you are about to enter.
Since the publication of her prize-winning memoir, Craft for a Dry Lake, in 2000, writer and artist Kim Mahood has been returning to the Tanami desert country in far north-western Australia where, as a child, she lived with her family on a remote cattle station. The land is timeless, but much has changed: the station has been handed back to its traditional owners; the mining companies have arrived; and Aboriginal art has flourished.
Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood’s constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtful is a revelation of the significance of the land to its people — and of the burden of history.
Mahood is an artist of astonishing versatility. She works with words, with paint, with installations, and with performance art. Her writing about her own work and collaborations, and about the work of the desert artists, is profoundly enlightening, making palpable the link between artist and country.
This is a beautiful and intense exploration of friendships, landscape, and homecoming. Written with great energy and humour, Position Doubtful offers a unique portrait of the complexities of black and white relations in contemporary Australia.
Perceptions and observations map an earthy story of remote Australia
Kim Mahood takes the reader with her as she traces her own story in the Tanami; sometimes with her own council, often with friends who know the place well or as first time visitors. She travels sparely but well prepared with dog and Hilux. Her careful preparations are often as much philosophical as survival where jerry cans of water and diesel provide ballast for cultural insights of what is profound and ordinary about this isolated part of the world and its people. She shows us her world as an artist and cultural recorder mapping both ancient and contemporary insights into country from indigenous and settler perspectives.
This is a beautifully crafted and deeply contemplative book of one woman's return to inland Australia over two decades and her sense of belonging as she straddles two worlds which are as much the competing worlds of the remote and urban as they are black and white Australia. At times it gives raw insights in to what it is to be human as we feel her losses and joys within this country. As a reader she swaddles you in the colours and textures, light and tone of her Australia; you are baptised to knowing what it is like to part of something.