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Speaking with Light: 30 Indigenous artists reclaim the representation of their culture

In the second section, the Indigenous theory of ‘survivance’ is explored by artists such as Red Star and Galanin. Survivance is a term coined by Anishinaabe scholar and cultural theorist Gerald Vizenor to describe the resistance and presence of Indigenous people in the face of attempted cultural and physical genocide. In Red Star’s Catalogue Number 1941.30.1, the multidisciplinary artist incorporates archival prints of Indigenous items, revering the objects and honouring them as artworks; the past living on within the new. 

In the final section, Nation, artists reflect on the multiplicity that is a community, asking us to consider “what it is to feel at home in a far without the Indian,” reflects Wilson. “American identity is often dependent on binary, oppositional tensions between self and other; without the Indian, there is no Cowboy,” he adds. “We have always been here, and continue to be. Many of the works bring this truth to the forefront, presenting a rupture, an alternative vision of the world that we must contend with.”

Wilson and Rohrbach describe the exhibition, and the subsequent book, as a “platform for truth-telling”. By collating the work of individual artists into a survey show, a new collective story unfolds. Wilson adds: “Telling our story and bearing witness is central to Indigenous cultures. This project is but one of many steps towards reconciliation.”

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