Opportunities to view indigenous peoples through the eyes of indigenous photographers are rare and recent. This photographic exhibition features the work of indigenous artists from North America, Peru, Iraq, and New Zealand. The exhibition is distinctive in its historical reach, including newly discovered 19th Century trailblazers, members of the next generation of emerging photographers, and well-established contemporary practitioners.
Our People, Our Land, Our Images has been carefully constructed as a first person, indigenous account—this curatorial approach is reflected in the choices of photographers and their subjects, the catalogue essayists, and thoughtfully designed exhibition collateral. Reflecting contemporary trends, the photographs vary in style, from straightforward documentary accounts to aesthetically altered images combining overlays and collage. They stand united, however, in how they convey their makers’ connections to the land, community, and traditions. Artists’ statements, which appear in the catalogue and on the gallery walls, convey the plurality of the indigenous voices and their concerns.
Ultimately, the multiplicity of perspectives represented by the exhibition and its texts sustains an open-ended experience that will actively engage audiences as they analyze how “the camera, in the hands of indigenous visionaries, becomes a tool or weapon that possesses the power to confront and deconstruct stereotypes, politics, and histories.” Our People, Our Land, Our Images provides insight into the variations in and history of bicultural identity. Further, the exhibition demonstrates the longevity and continuing vitality of native traditions of photography and answers the overdue and continuing need to expand the knowledge of indigenous self-presentation in photography.
The C. N. Gorman Museum at the University of California, Davis, originally organized this exhibition in conjunction with a conference for international indigenous photographers held at the museum. Veronica Passalacqua, curator at the C.N. Gorman Museum, is the guest curator. For the past 15 years, Passalacqua has been active in the field of Native North American art as a writer, curator, and scholar. Most recently, Passalacqua facilitated the donation/repatriation of a significant private Lakota collection of artifacts to the Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum, Pine Ridge Reservation. Previous curatorial work includes exhibitions at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, England; the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, AZ; and the Barbican Art Gallery, London.