In this notebook, Stephen Muecke describes the works of the Aboriginal artist Butcher Joe from Goolarabooloo, who visualized key ideas of his culture in the drawings reproduced here. They show places where the dead visit the living, events at the threshold between waking and sleeping: legends of dreamtime that explain how everything came into existence and that constitute the rules according to which people live. We see dancing, hunting, and working people, spirits, animals, skeletonsparticular scenes from history, partially translations of visual and acoustic memories, in which spirits can turn into humans and humans into animals. As a portrait of the indigenous Australian aesthetic, these drawings and the descriptive essay in the notebook allow the reader a personal insight into the world and life of the people and their mythical principles, according to which allbe it animal, human, or plantis viewed in its potential to transform.
Butcher Joe Nangan (19021989) was an artist from Broome, West Australia.
Stephen Muecke is a writer based in Sydney.