For several decades, Indigenous artists have mined archives for historic materials relating to their ancestors and generated or collected by anthropologists. This panel examines contemporary Indigenous photo-based artworks that draw on the anthropological archive, especially on colonial photographs.
From the mid-1980s onwards, artists of Indigenous backgrounds have increasingly mined archives around the globe for historic material relating to their ancestors and generated or collected by anthropologists. Colonial photographs of Indigenous people have been particularly popular. Several artists have reworked such photographs into contemporary photo-based artworks. Australian artist Brook Andrew has used photographs of first encounters between Europeans and Indigenous people from the collection of the Royal Anthropological Institute in his Gun Metal Grey (2007) series. His work exposes what Elizabeth Edwards (2001) has termed 'raw histories': painful narratives relating to imperialism that we have hardly come to terms with. Artists like Christian Thompson and Fiona Foley, also from Australia, have chosen to allude to rather than reproduce original colonial imagery. In We Bury Our Own (2012) and Badtjala Woman (1994), these artists use their own bodies to recover, recollect, revise and repatriate representations and memories of their Indigenous forebears.
This panel invites papers that explore the use of historic anthropological materials and collections, in particular colonial photographs, by Indigenous artists around the globe to create photo-based art. Questions that may be addressed include, but need not be limited to, developments in artists' approaches to using archival material for photo-based work, conflicts resulting from the reproduction of photographs embedded in colonial representation regimes, working relations between Indigenous artists and those who manage anthropological materials and today's reception of photo-based works based on archival materials by Indigenous communities.