Form and Substance
Tiffany Tsao • 11 February 2022
What happens when shallow gestures take the place of meaningful action? When outward form supplants content? When people confuse buying a tote bag with decolonisation, eating Chinese food with cultural open-mindedness, and great hair with doing one’s job?
The pieces featured in The Circular this week interrogate the impulse to replace or confuse substance with the superficial. Two of the essays have been specifically selected and arranged to continue delving into an issue raised by a preceding text.
Following Maddee Clark’s observations on superficial ‘decolonisation’ in the arts is Moana Jackson’s discussion on the need to reframe the decolonisation story and move toward an 'ethic of restoration' rooted in stories in the land. We take the opportunity afforded by Cher Tan’s incisive critique of snackable, digestible media content and intellectual expression to feature one of its references – a meditation in fragments by Ouyang Yu on life as a dead Chinese writer in Australia.