What lies beneath: reading Melbourne's CBD through 'the another view walking trail'
2016-12-14T02:23:44Z (GMT) by
Abstract: This article is about memory, history and erasure as expressed through the framework of the decommissioned-but fragmentarily remnant-walking trail, the Another View Walking Trail located in and around Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD). The Another View Walking Trail, herein referred to as the AVWT, was constructed in 1995. Commissioned by The City of Melbourne and in collaboration between Aboriginal artist Ray Thomas (Gunnai people, Gippsland, Victoria), researcher/writer Robert Mate Mate (Woorabinda/ Berigaba people, Queensland) and non-Aboriginal artist Megan Evans, the trail sought to reconfigure the colonial narrative implicit in the structural configuration of the CBD. The premise was/is at once simple and radical: counter-monuments were/are constructed next to monuments and structures that are sites of colonial power; these counter-monuments, accompanied by explanatory text in the trail's pamphlet, momentarily alter/ed the narrative of that site. Through such acts of juxtaposition sites of opposition and resistance were/are opened which produce/d a contemplative schism into which the assumed reality of the city fell/falls. Through labour-intellectual, physical and emotional-'the walker' emerges(ed) from the trail with an understanding of 'another history of Melbourne,' one in which Aboriginal resistance, spirituality and history is exhumed from the aestheticized spaces of Melbourne's streets and parks. The trail itself is a text-to be read in its entirety and not in the dislocated manner habitual to the experience of city monuments-only then does meaning, complex, entangled and disruptive, finally emerge. 'To read,' in the very De Certeau-ian sense, means here, 'to walk.' The trail since has fallen into disrepair; only three of the original 17 counter-monuments remain. 'Defacement,' according to Anthropologist Michael Taussig, renders the invisible visible. A vandalized wall makes itself apparent to the 'passer-by.' But what are we to make of the act of 'deterioration?' Some of the conclusions that can be drawn from the deterioration of the AVWT are self-evident: primarily, a resistance to acknowledging histories that disrupt narratives of national grandeur and/or an inability to look into the past and face the present. 'Deterioration' and 'neglect' provide an appropriate frame for a renewed approach to the AVWT: however, these conditions are not synonymous with any lapse in the functionality, operability or significance of the trail-the AVWT has no association with the word 'failure.'