Reframing the narrative

Duck
Slipped
Eagle flight
Stagecoach
Tomahawk
Long shot
Ambush
Draw!
Gunfighter
War club
Speared
Hero
Defender
Buffalo protector
Warrior

This series Reframing the Narrative, comprises of two sets of drawings, inspired by a long disgust at the portrayal of aboriginals in U.S film and television, but triggered coincidently by noticing a now closed "western" themed mini-golf course at the King Alfred Leisure Centre near my house in Brighton, England. The figures displayed were the sorts of stock photo, amalgamated, stereotypes of the people Native to what is now known as America, frozen eternally as victims to colonial cowboys. The people of North America have since their contact with settlers been understood only in opposition to European then American culture, the racism of these two invasive societies mean that there is a lack of exposure to native expression and view point. Thus, the Cree, the Lakota, the Salish, the Apache remain "Injins", buck tooth cardboard cutouts often played by white actors whooping and jigging about on screen before being massacred by a white "hero", invading their country due overall to the pursuit of wealth. Growing up watching westerns I always hoped despite knowing I would be disappointed, that John Wayne or whomever would come unstuck against, probably Wes Studi. However, time and again the arrow would miss and the tomahawk fall short, but the bullet would find usually its mark.

 

These images are my way of highlighting the way in which we swallow this narrative and how by doing so not only continue the historic racism directed against people whose societies we are only now catching up with in regard to environmentalism, gender politics and sexual equality. But this series also attempts to offer images not of victimhood or of fatalistic heroism but of the numerous victories by usually outnumbered and outgunned native forces against U.S armies and Militias. Battles such as The Pueblo Revolt, The battle of Wabash and Red Clouds War. By doing so, I try as with much of my work to offer an alternative to the prescribed narrative of history and subsequently the present. The work hopes not to resign the Noble Savage to his "inevitable" fate but through depiction of his victories allows him to live past this conflict and reminds the viewer of the survival of the Native people of North America whose population continues to grow and whose culture is now in resurgence. The images however, do have the problematic issue of white authorship. Although I do think that by placing myself in the canon of white directors making westerns I have ironically claimed my position within my racial history. I hope that by baring the brunt of this rightful judgement and attempting to depict my subject in a positive light. By making no attempt to suggest anything other than my role as a white artist and by giving 50% of the money made from selling these pieces to organisations helping fund Native cultural revival, that I do not take the role of a vulture.