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Australians dream of speed

Professor Angelina Russo and Dr Steven Fleming

Transcript of staff seminar given at the National Museum of Australia on 5 December 2013

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ANNE FARIS: Thank you everybody for coming today. I would like to welcome you to our December staff seminar and particularly welcome people who have come from outside of the Museum. It’s great to see you here. My name is Anne Faris, and I work in the Research Centre. I am going to hand over shortly to Dr Daniel Oakman, one of our senior curators in the People and the Environment team who will welcome our guest speakers. They will speak for 40 minutes and then we will have some question time. The session will be recorded. The intention is that it goes on the web. I would also like to draw your attention to our book display. Feel free to have a look at that afterwards. It has been put together by Noellen, Naomi and Janet, our fabulous librarians.

Dr DANIEL OAKMAN: Thanks everyone for coming along. I am delighted to introduce our two speakers today, Professor Angelina Russo and Dr Steven Fleming. Angelina is a designer and professor of cultural practice at the University of Canberra. She also runs a micro business called CultureCycle, which designs hi visibility handmade cycle wear.

Dr Fleming is a senior lecturer at the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Tasmania where he leads bike-focused design studios and supervises PhD candidates in bike-oriented topics. He is also the author of an incredibly interesting book called Cycle Space.

By way of introduction, when I first met Angelina a few months ago I was particularly excited by their research not just because of my own particular interests in cycling and in cycling history but really due to the highly original and innovative dimensions of their work. In many ways I felt that the approach they were taking was really challenging many of the debates that have been centred around cycling over the last ten years and taking them in new and interesting directions. I think their work does this because it uses cycling as a way to interrogate some of the major trajectories of modernity and modern life in the twentieth century from both a historical and a cultural perspective.

They have majored in cycling in relation to a range of critically important themes like public health, transportation, obesity, urban congestion, the road toll, pollution and, of course, climate change. But at its heart their research starts to look at the impact of modernity on our own bodies, and in particular the perception of our own bodies. It is in that sense that I think it starts to open up fascinating pathways.

I am sure we will see in their talk that there are rich areas for collaboration with the National Museum as these issues that they address are vitally important to cultural institutions. I think we in particular have a great role to play in tackling many of the same questions that they will be raising today. Over to you, Angelina.

> Presentation by Angelina Russo