Research Handbook on Art and Law
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Research Handbook on Art and Law

Edited by Jani McCutcheon and Fiona McGaughey

Featuring international contributions from leading and emerging scholars, this innovative Research Handbook presents a panoramic view of how law sees visual art, and how visual art sees law. It resists the conventional approach to art and law as inherently dissonant – one a discipline preoccupied with rationality, certainty and objectivity; the other a creative enterprise ensconced in the imaginary and inviting multiple, unique and subjective interpretations. Blending these two distinct disciplines, this unique Research Handbook bridges the gap between art and law.
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Chapter 17: On The Nullians

Jani McCutcheon


2017 marked the 50th anniversary of Australia’s 1967 Federal Constitutional Referendum, Australia's most unanimous. This referendum removed two references in the Australian Constitution that discriminated against Aboriginal peoples. It is widely considered to be a landmark of Aboriginal political history and a turning point for Australian Aboriginal affairs. When the Sky Fell was a 2017 exhibition of Aboriginal artists’ works, curated to mark the 50th anniversary of the Referendum and to artistically explore a range of responses and stories about the consequences of the Referendum for Indigenous peoples in Australia. Featured in the exhibition, The Nullians is a sculpture installation created by West Australian Aboriginal artist, Sharyn Egan, in which Egan collates and positions numerous polished wooden objects, mostly vases, lamps and bowls. This chapter explains the background to the referendum and reflects on how The Nullians illuminates and provokes a matrix of perspectives, responses and ideas relating to Aboriginal peoples in Australia and the legacy of the referendum.

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