Abstract: Notions of an alternative present an interface for reimagining historical encounters. Such an interface coincides with opportunities offered by Australian contemporary art practices that speak to local experiences of place and how this might challenge understandings of national narratives, as well as offer spaces to explore intersections of compounded entanglement across cultures. In this paper, I argue that contemporary Indigenous art practices in Australia play a significant role in engaging with complex historical, cultural and political issues through two key concepts, the first being an encounter and the second a cultural interface, both of which are centred around recalibrating historical perspectives and providing opportunities to explore national tensions, complexities and ambiguities. The paper takes a case study of selected contemporary Australian artworks by Indigenous artists in the 2017 exhibition titled Defying Empire to examine how artistic practices help to unleash dialogue and previously undisclosed knowledge by addressing issues such as invisible histories.

Keywords: Contemporary Australian Indigenous art practices; encounter; cultural interface; invisible histories