Curatorial Design at the Cultural Interface: Mapping Culpra Station

Campbell Drake, Vince Dziekan, Jock Gilbert, Sven Mehzoud, Barry Pearce, Sophia Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


While the impetus towards decolonization presents significant issues for more institutionalized forms of curating and how they attend to Indigenous cultural content, equally, this situation presents distinct opportunities to establish alternative forms of curatorial practice that engage with inter-cultural knowledge exchange through collaboration with Indigenous communities. We offer here a contextual framing of a series of interconnected design events and exhibition outcomes that originated from an invitation to creatively ‘map’ an Aboriginal owned station property in southern New South Wales, Australia. Curatorial Design will be used to encompass the mix of disciplinary knowledge that this creative research project calls upon along with interdisciplinary approaches employed that draw from (but are not limited to) practice-based methods from art and design, especially spatial practice, as well as archaeology, anthropology, cartography and ethnography. This overarching term has been adopted in an effort not to pigeonhole the nature of thinking or doing that the creative curatorial practices detailed in this article entail, either of the participants involved in the project or outcomes resulting from the collaborative processes discussed herein. As the opening, scene-setting entry of the Interpretive Wonderings Portfolio*, this article identifies the contexts within which the project situates itself – between Indigenous and Western knowledge systems; disciplinary and interdisciplinary “know-how”; theory and practice – in order to establish the positions of the four chief protagonists directly engaged in the project in relation to this ‘cultural interface’. It sets out some of the shifts in understanding of these positions and in particular the ways that the original project’s framing through critical cartography was both facilitated and transformed in turn through consideration of Aboriginal ontologies. These evolving positions and their relationships to each other are articulated in a series of abbreviated individual reflections provided at the conclusion of this project overview.

*The Interpretive Wonderings portfolio comprises a set of interrelated writings that attempt to provide a distinctive, multi-perspectival account of this creative research project. In addition to this contextual piece, other articles include: a compilation of short texts that offer reflective analyses from the different perspectives of the project’s curatorium and principal researchers, Sophia Pearce, Campbell Drake, Jock Gilbert and Sven Mehzoud (Drake et al. 2019b, this issue), and individual research-led articles by Gilbert (2019, this issue) and Mehzoud (2019, this issue). Read individually, each designated article presents a focused inquiry (depth); taken together as a curated series, they provide the reader with the opportunity to gain a comprehensive overview (breadth) and appreciation of the project’s guiding aspirations, objectives and outcomes that amounts to more than the sum of its discrete parts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-588
Number of pages18
JournalCurator: the Museum journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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