Exhibition: Native America: In Translation
Native America: In Translation, curated by the artist Wendy Red Star, considers the wide-ranging work of photographers and lens-based artists who pose challenging questions about land rights, identity and heritage, and histories of colonialism. The exhibition, for which Art on Hulfish will be the first venue, extends Red Star’s work as guest editor of the Fall 2020 issue of Aperture magazine.
“I was thinking about young Native artists,” says Red Star, “and what would be inspirational and important for them as a road map.” That map spans a diverse array of intergenerational image-making that includes the meditative assemblages of Kimowan Metchewais and the installation works of Alan Michelson, the stylish self-portraits of Martine Gutierrez, the speculative mythologies of Koyoltzintli (Karen) Miranda-Rivadeneira and Guadalupe Maravilla, and the multidisciplinary performance and conceptual works of Rebecca Belmore. The exhibition examines the historic, often fraught relationship between photography and Native representation while offering new perspectives by emerging artists who reimagine what it means to be a citizen in North America today. Rebecca Belmore, a member of the Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), works in performance and lens-based media to create scenes of aching endurance and forceful grace. Since the 1990s she has probed the politics of First Nations representations in Canada, often melding the photographic with the tactile. Her images parse through the pain of state violence against Indigenous peoples, placing subjects in strange architectural contortions of the body and definitively expanding the field of conceptual photography in the process.
Appropriation runs throughout Indigenous Woman, Martine Gutierrez’s 2018 photographic project that takes the form of a 124-page magazine filled with spreads that encapsulate high-fashion glamour with a revolving roster of interchangeable, often Indigenous, identities. Here, Indigeneity becomes a medium to reflect on gender, heritage, and narrative; Gutierrez, a trans artist of Mayan heritage, mobilizes the concept of Indigeneity to question the birth origins of gender—what makes a “Native-born” woman? In her series MEDA, Koyoltzintli (Karen) Miranda-Rivadeneira envisions the Sky Woman—a mythical two-million-year-old woman from Amerindian oral tradition—performing a range of “agile acts” that reclaim the earth and fight against erasure. Rivadeneira, who is descended from the Manta peoples on the Ecuadorian coast, uses myths like the Sky Woman to document imperiled Indigenous spoken-word traditions, connecting the Native American origin story to Záparo, a language of Ecuador, today spoken fluently by only a handful of people.
Native America: In Translation is curated by Wendy Red Star. The exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, and is made possible, in part, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Art on Hulfish is made possible by the leadership support of Annette Merle-Smith and by Princeton University. Generous support is also provided by John Diekman, Class of 1965, and Susan Diekman; William S. Fisher, Class of 1979, and Sakurako Fisher; J. Bryan King, Class of 1993; Christopher E. Olofson, Class of 1992; Barbara and Gerald Essig; Jim and Valerie McKinney; Nancy A. Nasher, Class of 1976, and David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976; H. Vincent Poor, Graduate Class of 1977; and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by the Department of English, the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center, and the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAISIP) Working Group Seminars Series, a Collaborative Humanities project in the Humanities Council, Princeton University.