Down City Streets is an initiative of the Space Place Country research cluster at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.
Country is a notion that has come to English-speaking Australians from the explanations and place-maintaining work of Indigenous people all round the continent. Country is a place with life coursing through it, life that is both a natural force and a configuration of culturally produced effects that get socially managed or damaged by everyone abiding in that stretch of Country. Country is a place where human beings can have a big impact but they are not the main element. As the Indigenous architect, Kevin O’Brien, says “Country is an Aboriginal Idea … It understands that every moment of the land, sea and sky, its particles, its prospects and its prompts, enables life.” Finding Country/Burning Campus, p. 6
On the other hand, the primary forces that have shaped our contemporary Australian cities – whether based on political, economic, legal, urban planning or design principles – do not hold the idea of Country at their core. The city often forgets the enduring presence of Indigenous people with their long-maintained ties to managing and cultivating the land the city is built upon.
We are interested in exploring shifts in thinking and practicing if Country is held as central. This has implications for artistic, theoretical, legal, political, ecological and social practices.
Down City Streets is a project that aims to address the enduring presence of Country and to examine ways to bring an acute understanding of this into the public domain more broadly. It invites leading Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, architects, musicians, writers and thinkers to lead discussion on how this might be best achieved through a series of events including urban walks, workshops and a colloquium run throughout 2015.
We pay respects to all Traditional Custodians on whose land we live, work and travel through, in Australia and overseas.