I was no longer content to mine my fieldsite for extractable data that would contribute to theory far away, among strangers.
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I wanted to speak alongside my research interlocutors, not only about them. I thought I might highlight, emulate, enhance and expand what I saw as their best efforts, to be complicit in and add my voice to what I increasingly saw as a shared cultural project: deploying historical knowledge, personal memory and experience, and cultural convictions to create social space for encounter and dialogue, and subvert constraining mythologies and ossified emotional postures common to both Polish and Jewish national projects.
I began experimenting with ways to curate the fruits of my ethnographic research in the public spaces these culture brokers had created, to re-work and re-frame the cultural materials I had gleaned locally and re-insert them back into the flow of social life there, to be considered — and responded to — by people to whom they mattered uniquely. See the results of one project here: odpowiedz…please respond. Her work thus far has focused on post-Holocaust Jewish culture; memory, heritage, museums, and tourism; ethnography; intercultural dialogue; and public scholarship. Ethnographic Terminalia.
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Erica Lehrer. Within the social, environmental, political, religious and economic domains, these issues are brought to the fore and momentarily subject to media, public and governmental attention. Art exhibitions provide a public forum for these issues to be debated, appealing to the public and politicians to reflect and respond in order to create new policies in hopes of transforming socio-cultural-political circumstances.
Political Movements and Their Impact on Representation and Art The inclination to offer a contextualization of Indigenous curatorial methodologies surfaced, and in turn, this drew correlations of major social movements to major exhibitions and highlighted relevant artwork. The political terrain in Canada would determine the status of art and culture for Indigenous communities because the Indian Act legally controlled what Indigenous Peoples could do; every part of their lives was determined by the oppressive legislation, such as mobility on and off reserves.
These broad spectrums of living and human expression inclusive of education and art were greatly restricted before the Indian Act was amended. These changes happened from Indigenous people mobilizing their political will and empowering their communities to revitalize, connect and return to traditional ceremonies and practices, cultural identity and connection to the land.
This was an important moment in history as it is related to Indigenous art and its slow assent into the larger art world.
One of these was The Indians of Canada Pavilion; this was the first time that Indigenous People were officially included and involved in the visual representations of their culture, and formed an emergence and precedence for self-determination. However, the Indigenous representatives had to work within and against a system steeped in imperialistic and hegemonic philosophies systemic in Western consciousness. Indian painters, carvers and other artists have worked to translate the concept, which evolved into a form of significant expression.
Through their exhibit, the Indians of Canada speak to fellow Canadians and to the other peoples against the background of Man and his World. Primarily the Indian people want to present the problems with which they are faced by involvement in a modern technological society, and to affirm their will to preserve the traditional moral and spiritual values of their forefathers. This is a positive expression of Indian thought. While 24 the Canadian Indian approaches the Expo 67 Theme in terms of himself and of his own world, the subject is a common experience of Man Morency, expo The pavilion officials shaped and controlled the discourse with colonial and stereotypical overtones.
With international audiences in mind, master narratives of a nationalist identity presided, working to oversimplify Indigenous cultures and struggles, pan-Indigenize and perpetuate stereotypes. However, the Indians of Canada Pavilion was a pivotal exhibition in Canadian art history, as it was the first exhibition involving Indigenous People.
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It has been thought of as the genesis of Indigenous curatorial practice because it was the first time Indigenous people were included and contributed in the representation of their cultures in a major international exhibition. The Indigenous artists envisioned, reframed, remembered, claimed and represented their truths amid a colonial framework. Their stories of cultural resistance, survival, celebration had a presence but also they tried to be as candid about realities Indigenous People faced at the time, and how colonialism had affected them on many levels.
The project forged a sense of common purpose among the participating artists, organizers, and activists across Canada, and the experience left a legacy of self-confidence and a sense of possibility An overarching resonance from the Indian Pavilion was the importance of Indigenous distinction, active identity, and diversity among Nations, self-determination and productive resistance.
The significance of the cultural and political landscape at the time and following Expo 67 corresponded both to how the art world and the public metabolized Indigenous arts and the aesthetics Indigenous artists were producing. The increased visibility may be attributed in part, to the social conditions of the period which favored for First Nations peoples specifically, an increase in social activism and, for the Canadian population at large, and increased sense of nationalism Transnational Indigenous Movements and Artistic Agency Although the focus on this thesis is mainly Canadian, the late 60s and 70s bore radical political activism, cultural resurgence among international relations garnering world-wide coverage.
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Indigenous groups got organized and many countries saw riots, occupations and armed resistances. These acts of critical mass organizations received national and international prominence which then generated focus on environmental concerns, land entitlements, basic human rights, inequalities and injustices that destabilized the imagined North America and aided in breaking down notions of the vanished and stereotyped Indian.
These movements had interconnected and intertwined activities, responses, influences and consequences. Artistically, these movements stirred a responding aesthetic and agency. Otherwise they were being relegated to museums where their work was seen more as ethnology than contemporary art. They really just wanted to come together to have a louder voice and to reach out to emerging Aboriginal artists McLaughlin, Frontrunners, canadianart. During this time, however, it was still difficult for Aboriginal People to exhibit their work in galleries; they were being excluded from contemporary art.
To foster the voices of Indigenous artists and provide a space for inclusion and exhibition, Daphne Odjig took matters into her own hands and organization. In , 28 Odjig had opened a print shop and craft store and later expanded it to create the New Warehouse Gallery, which was the first gallery owned and operated by a person of Aboriginal heritage in Canada WAG Faced with the challenges of exclusion, Odjig saw opportunity and self-determination not only as her destiny but also those of her colleagues and a whole new generation of artists to follow.
With a re-staging or re-curation of what could have and should have happened, LaVallee reasserts their presence and contribution into art history as well as poses a critical stance to amend curatorial practice and enact curatorial interventions. The 70s retro-stylized catalogue is extensive, offering eight essays and color images of the artwork and archives.
The exhibition featured quotes from each of the artists about their work and perspectives. It 29 featured objects made by Indigenous peoples that were owned and loaned from North American and European institutions, mostly appropriated objects collected during the early years of European contact. The exhibition was also sponsored by Shell Canada, which at the time was engaged in exploiting natural resources on the land belonging to the Lubicon Cree, a group that had been struggling for half a century to settle a land claim with the Canadian federal government.
Indigenous People from all over Canada united to protest the exhibition, sparking a major controversy around the world Phillips Had it not been for the Lubicon boycott, which drew worldwide attention and created a call to action to which Canada responded in an enlightening fashion while the world watched, positive changes in policy and practice regarding First Nations Indigenous people throughout the world would have been, I believe slower and not as extensive as the progress that has been made since the exhibitions protest Questions of power and authority to represent cultures arose and became another motivation for mobilizing a future and process of change towards Indigenous agency in museums and galleries.
Belmore recalls, The call issued by the Lubicon Cree Nation to encourage people to respond to the hypocrisy of this supposedly celebratory exhibition and its relationship to the Olympics screamed at me…This call to action was a significant moment for me. Indeed, activist and social movements have shaped and influenced contemporary Indigenous aesthetics, creative production and reception, and vice versa; exhibitions provoking activism as evidenced with the Spirit Sings exhibition.
Painter and politically engaged artist, Alex Janvier responded to the Spirit Sings exhibition with a striking abstract expressionist painting, Lubicon. It directly addressed the political and economic issues that affected the Lubicon Cree peoples and specifically the extraction of oil from their lands by Shell Corporation, who was also sponsoring the Spirit Sings exhibition. Art and activism as a unified practice has been a powerful engagement in provoking critical dialogue, agency and societal analysis. In the realm of art and activism, cultural producers artists, curators, writers have become facilitators of agency, or agents of change.
Through their artwork they empower the viewer to reflect, to act, and to respond. Commitment to community activates social movements that have been seeds to cultivate creativity. The contributions of the Indigenous arts movement laid the ground for Indigenous artists today who are researchers and activists who are telling a story, seeing the world, interpreting the world through an Indigenized, growing decolonized lens. The Indigenous arts movement also made clear that the intersection of art and activism has had long lasting effects on critical, cultural and political arenas.
Artistic activism deeply engages with the politics in materiality of the art making and the tangible and intangible products reflect that message with very real geopolitical consequences Cronin and Robinson 4. In , in the Mohawk territories of Kanewake, near Montreal had an armed standoff lasting for 11 weeks, known as the Oka Crisis, between the Mohawk community members, including woman, children and men who banded together, against over 32 thousands of police and soldiers.
The Mohawks were fighting for protection of their land and the burial grounds of their ancestors, as they barricaded and shut down roads to stop the development of a golf course, which would have destroyed a significant Mohawk burial ground. Indigenous people across Canada showed their solidarity through protests, occupations, road and rail blockades and disruptions. The cultural clash formed political entanglements and fractured relationships among Canadians. The majority of the media framed and cast Indigenous peoples as criminals. The political unrest and social upheaval was what Indigenous artists channeled as they created work that contributed to issues of race politics, identity and political action in response to their surroundings and circumstance.
The th anniversary of Canadian confederation galvanized Indigenous artists, once again amassed as provocateurs to raise consciousness of colonial hegemony using their art practices to advocate and present social justice efforts. But what are we going to do in the next 33 years? What are we going to do in the next 10 years? So that, when the year comes around, there are some differences…!
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Canadian 8. His statement at once generated a sense of nationalism and provoked fellow Canadians toward change. Indeed several Indigenous nations were obliterated by ethnocide and genocide. Yet we endure. Indigena was the first of its kind at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in that it featured Indigenous curators, Indigenous artists and Indigenous writers.
The exhibition produced a catalogue with a poem by Joe David; a statement from Indigenous leader George Eramus; a curatorial introduction; and, six critical essays from Gloria Cranmer Webster, Alootook Ipellie, George E. In addition, each artist portfolio included biographical statements, artist statements and images. Indigena was interdisciplinary focused within 34 the exhibition and also reflected in the catalogue, including performance, paintings, installations, videos, poems and photographs that portrayed cultural survival through Indigenous values and knowledge.
Many artists concentrate on issues of perspective regarding historical events that have been previously ignored or overlooked by European-focused historians. They not only bring these events into sharp focus, but also attempt to provide a resolution to the problems. In this rewriting of history, many artists transcend local, Aboriginal-specific issues to address global concerns of human and ecological devastation Indigena invoked not only a spirit of resistance, passion and renewed sense of presence but also a responsibility to revise and think critically about Canadian and Indigenous history.
The critical writing from Indigenous writers and thinkers, as well as exhibiting the Indigenous artists involved, was important in cultivating an evolving critical regionalism and narrative that confronts realities and asserts legitimacy, multiplicity and complexity in contemporary culture. The crisis in OKA and resistance movements in history have been powerful stimuli and catalysts for art production, art criticism and groundbreaking exhibitions.
Land Spirit Power brought together interdisciplinary work in film, installation, sculpture, performance, paintings and mixed media. Land, Spirit, Power produced a catalogue with essays from the curators, reflections from the artists and interviews with the artists.