The seemingly paradoxical phrase indicates that an enduring disposition toward Native cultures as earth-sensitive alternatives to the damaging ideologies and practices of Euro-American industrial modernity is inadequate to the challenges of complex crises.
in my view, the most compelling cultural work is that which explores and develops modes of ecology-as-intersectionality, wherein political ecology links with Indigenous and/or queer rights activism and/or movements against police brutality, media censorship, and capitalist extraction.
Instead of a river, time is now more like a vortex or maelstrom, a rotating body of water that draws down anything lying on the surface, yet at the same time—due to currents and cross currents—jettisons any objects, animals, and plants lying at depth.
In the moments when I feel like I do not belong or that we are not doing enough to decolonize inherently colonial institutions such as museums and universities, I try to pause and think not only about the absurdity and seeming infeasibility of the project we have set for ourselves, but also these moments when the intangibility of our research materializes in practice.
Centering on T.C. Cannon as narrator of the exhibition, and decentralizing my curatorial voice as the authority, was an intentional strategy I employed to activate Cannon’s Native perspective and to build empathy with the audience.
Can an institution not only virtually reconnect the objects with their communities, but also create reciprocal relationships that will benefit the objects and the communities (both Indigenous and museum audiences alike)
How might technology restore the connections between the tangible and the intangible that text-based art-historical practices and their often singular focus on the visual have damaged or elided?
Dell Upton follows up on the theme of his current book, What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South (Yale University Press) by asking a team of individuals critically engaged with public art, memory, and the nation about the recent debates around Confederate monuments and efforts to recognize histories of lynching.
A monument leads an unhappy life. The best it can hope for is to molder quietly under a mantle of pigeon droppings, for when the people or events it celebrates attract a critical eye, its travails begin. Because a monument holds up its subject to memory, even adulation, it is likely to suffer for the failings of the animate.
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