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Art, Ethnology and Indigeneity 
Gerald McMaster (Ontario College of Art and Design University)
Paul Basu (University of Oxford)
British Museum - BP Lecture Theatre
Sunday 3 June, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

The definition of Indigenous contemporary art has evolved significantly over the past 20 years, with more artists of Indigenous ancestry gaining recognition in both public exhibitions and academic studies. The year 2017, in fact, marked a significant milestone for global Indigenous artists when many were featured at both the Venice Biennale and Documenta 14.

Long Abstract:

My presentation will take as its focus a new kind of Indigenous contemporary artist: someone whose work and practice are as comfortable in an art gallery or ethnographic museum as they are at home in an Indigenous community. Two of the main concepts I will examine are ritual and display. In this regard, I am intrigued by artists who express their indigeneity and artistic agency through the mindful production and presentation of objects and images that possess inherent ritual value. Similarly, many Indigenous artists are affirming the value of traditional knowledge sources and ways of knowing that have been passed down from generation to generation by calling upon them in their own visual and material expressions. I also intend to address the topics of settlement and migration in the context of how Indigenous artists are addressing the shared experiences of colonization and displacement, as well as relationships to place that may be transient and evolving. In my talk I will also touch on self-decolonization as it is expressed through interculturality (the exchange of ideas and forms between Indigenous peoples and settler cultures) and the healing of Indigenous communities. Related to this topic, I will conclude with thoughts on collaboration as a way for artists (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to work together in order to reverse the colonial gaze.