The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) is currently hosting the “Indigenous Histories” exhibition, sparking thought-provoking conversations about the representation of Indigenous cultures in the context of colonialist museum structures. The exhibition, featuring 170 artists, addresses the challenge of showcasing Indigenous history within a museum framework while also emphasizing the resilience and resistance of Indigenous communities. Indigenous Stories: Art, Resilience, Resistance.
One notable work in the exhibition is Susana Torres’s Museo Neo Inka series (1999-2011), specifically a wheat flour sack featuring an Inca man’s head juxtaposed with nutritional information. Torres’s collection of commercial products with Inca imagery critiques the use of Indigenous symbols in marketing, revealing the disparity between commercial exploitation and the economic challenges faced by contemporary Indigenous communities.
The exhibition, curated in collaboration with Norway’s Kode Bergen Art Museum, spans eight sections, with each focusing on different regions such as South America, North America, Oceania, and Scandinavia. The global room provides a powerful introduction, showcasing Indigenous resistance to colonialism and capitalist exploitation.
The timing of the exhibition is poignant, aligning with both challenges and victories in Indigenous rights. Against the backdrop of Australia’s rejection of constitutional recognition for Aboriginal communities, Brazil’s supreme court rejected a law limiting Indigenous land rights. The global room features Alexander Luna’s photograph of Máxima Acuña, symbolizing the ongoing fight for Indigenous rights. Acuña, in traditional Peruvian Andean clothing, smiles defiantly, embodying the serious struggles faced by Indigenous communities globally.
Notably, the exhibition invites guest curators for each section, resulting in a diverse range of perspectives and artworks. The exhibition explores the historical representation of Mexican Indigeneity post the 1910-20 revolution, showcasing both complementary and exoticizing depictions. The viewer is then presented with choices, exploring Western Australian “desert painting” or delving into the home culture of Canadian Inuit, First Nations, and Métis communities.
From Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi’s captivating abstract painting “Wirrpi” to the intricate patterning of Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula’s “Mitukatjirri,” the exhibition captures the diversity and richness of Indigenous artistic expressions.
“Indigenous Histories” at MASP goes beyond a conventional showcase; it sparks critical reflections on the complexities of presenting Indigenous cultures within museum settings. It underscores the ongoing fight for Indigenous rights, resilience, and the power of artistic expression in reclaiming narratives. The exhibition serves as a significant contribution to the ongoing dialogue surrounding Indigenous representation in the arts and cultural institutions.Source: https://www.ft.com/content/ac6f9f47-cc22-4859-85e4-1c192be353bf