'And this painting becomes his body for life': Perspectives on the relational materiality of images in northern Australia

Abstract : Among the most striking images produced in north-east Arnhem Land today, are the paintings given to young boys during their first initiation ceremony dhapi. Skillfully applied on their chest over several hours, while singing and dancing proceeds on the ceremonial ground nearby, these body paintings can be seen as relational matrixes which locate the initiands within a socio-cosmic web of connections. In the context of dhapi initiations, the links between clans, places and ancestral beings are manifested by being made visible on the skin. In this presentation, I will suggest that Yolngu ritual images appear as “matter(s) of relations” par excellence. Pragmatically composed and displayed for all to see, they assert certain rights and alliances with other groups. Imprinted on the body, deep down to the bones, they partake in a life-long process of turning into an ancestor.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01280554
Contributor : Jessica de Largy Healy <>
Submitted on : Monday, February 29, 2016 - 5:18:49 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:42:32 AM

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Jessica de Largy Healy. 'And this painting becomes his body for life': Perspectives on the relational materiality of images in northern Australia. Matter(s) of relations : current analyses of Pacific rituals, Pascale Bonnemère (CNRS-CREDO); Sandra Revolon (AMU-CREDO), Apr 2014, Marseille, France. ⟨hal-01280554⟩

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