Indigenous Histories

23.7 [tue]
24.7 [wed]

This is the second in a series of seminars anticipating the exhibition Indigenous Histories, which will be held in 2021.

The first seminar took place in June 2017, with the participation of Ailton Krenak, Aristóteles Barcelos Neto, Claudia Andujar, Davi Kopenawa, Edson Kayapó, Els Lagrou, Joseca Yanomami, Luís Donisete Benzi Grupioni, Luisa Elvira Belaunde, Lux Vidal, Milton Guran, and Pedro de Niemeyer Cesarino. In 2021, at MASP, Indigenous Histories will present a complete program of individual and collective exhibitions, lectures, workshops, publications and courses.

The seminar reintroduces Indigenous cultures into the museum. Over its history, MASP has organized several exhibitions with objects and records of Indigenous communities located in the Brazilian territory, as follows: Exposição de arte indígena (1949), Alguns Índios (1983), Arte karajá (1984), Índios yanomami (1985), and Arte indígena kaxinawa (1987).

Gathering theorists and practitioners of different places, settings, and perspectives, this two-day seminar aims to present and discuss the richness and complexity of Indigenous material and immaterial cultures, their philosophies and cosmologies, as well as the challenges and possibilities of working in these domains, especially in the context of a museum. Moreover, the discussions will approach themes such as human rights and activism, and relate them to our curatorial and artistic practices.

Two other international seminars are planned for 2020/2021, with an anthology expected to be published in 2021, compiling the contents presented at conferences.

Tickets will be available one hour before the seminar at the Museum’s box office. Each ticket is valid for only one day of the event, attendees must retrieve their tickets each of the two days.

In order to receive certificates, it is required to offer your e-mail address and full name, in addition to present an official document. Certificates will be issued only for those attending the two days of the seminar, and will be sent over e-mail to the addresses previously registered.

Organization: Adriano Pedrosa, André Mesquita, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, and Tomás Toledo.


Tuesday, July 23rd

Introduction with Adriano Pedrosa

10:30am – 12:30pm
A Counter-Colonial Approach on the Construction of the Imaginary of Indigenous Presence in Art

The presentation will talk about contemporary Indigenous art as a space of construction of Indigenous counter- and self-narratives against European canons, thus discussing the colonial character of art history and its treatment of Indigenous themes: what is considered Indigenous art, ethnocide in art, cultural strengthening, and art as a territory to be reclaimed. Protagonism, self-representation, and Indigenous poetics in movement will be some of the salient themes.
Indigenizing the Analysis of Contemporary Art

Resulting from an ongoing inquiry into the relationships that exist between artists, their Indigenous cultures, and their aesthetic pursuits as materialized in the contemporary art they produce, the author has developed a framework drawn from Indigenous cultural knowledge and philosophy, employing an interdisciplinary methodology. This presentation shares the framework and explores how methodology draws upon existing practices in Art History, Anthropology, and Native American Studies. Using contemporary Indigenous art by Norman Akers and Marie Watt as case studies, this presentation will share how the framework facilitates a culturally guided analysis and interpretation of two selected objects of study, and how these objects are the same time the product and the producer of cultural knowledge.

The History and Visual Representation of Aboriginal People from 1770-1901

The year 2020 marks the 250th Anniversary of Cook’s voyage and landing in Australia. Since his arrival in 1770, each decade up until today has given rise to definitive works of art by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians which have shaped our understandings of Aboriginal art, Aboriginal artists and the people and culture from which the art originates. This initial paper is one of three papers which will attempt to chart this history via an examination of the visual and pictorial literature that has emerged across this 250-year period. Various works will be examined in detail, artists’ backgrounds unpacked, and exhibition goals explored.
2pm – 4pm
Dispossessions as Performativity: Articulating ‘Performative Indigeneity’ within Taiwanese Indigenous curatorial practice

This presentation will explore Taiwanese Indigenous performative art through the works of Truku artist and activist Don Don Hounwn, Rukai sculptor Eleng Luluan and myself, a Bunun curator (Turku, Rukai and Bunun are three of Taiwan’s sixteen Indigenous groups). It will discuss the performance art exchange of Indigenous artists from Taiwan, based on Dispossessions at Goldsmiths and Let The River Flow at Office for Contemporary Art Norway. I examine our performative approaches and curatorial strategies as Indigenous artistic practices, with a particular focus on those pertinent to cultural loss, recovery and activation, and in relation to the discourse surrounding Indigenous creative and embodied sovereignty. This presentation will depict how Hounwn performs Indigeneity, sorrow and solitude, thereby, exposing hybrid identities. I will then demonstrate how Luluan uses her Indigenous performative installation to explore intrinsic and extrinsic performativity through material object and soft sculpture. Finally, I will look at how I myself structured a performative encounter with Taiwanese Indigenous contemporary art by curating an aesthetically organised space with cultural resonance. 

Contemplating the Global Indigenous Creative Landscape: Looking Back to Tomorrow

Drawing on some examples of works from the National Gallery of Canada’s first two global survey exhibitions of contemporary International Indigenous art – Sakahàn (2013) and Àbadakone / Continuous Fire / Feu continuel (November 2019) – Greg will speak on themes present in the works and curatorial strategies that amplify these ideas.
Indigenous Histories and the Colonial Context in Museums Collections

Opened in 2006, the Musée du quai Branly inherited, among other collections, a set of artworks from the museum of the colonies founded in Paris in 1931. It included paintings, sculptures, and drawings representing the French Empire overseas. These images of people and cultures comes from areas colonized by France and have long remained little known in France, owing to the colonial heritage to which the collection is a witness. In 2018, more than 200 of these artworks were presented to the public in the exhibition Paintings from Afar. Mainly portraits of Indigenous people by white artists, they generally convey a superficial or deformed perception of the other cultures. Through the presentation of this exhibition I will question the way museums deal with the complex reading of such works.
Wednesday, July 24th

10:30am – 12:30pm
To Always Awake Memory Through Narrative

This presentation intends to discuss narratives and memory, as well as their importance in the Guaraní culture. Education is associated with the construction of bodies and knowledge among the Guaraní in order to organize life in the tribes. They use the concept of “arts” as the juruas (non-Indigenous), which is understood as a tool for arandudu (wisdom). I will seek to explain how the history(ies) of the Nhandewa Guaraní are the basis of establishing different conducts, beliefs, and personalities which are compatible and adapted according to the particularities of each teko (mode of being). Highlighted here is the different formation of Guaraní women and men, emphasizing the history of Nhandesy Eté – a female figure of the Guaraní cosmology.
Histórias: Contemplating Fact, Fiction, Truth, and Myth for Indigenous Peoples

The word histórias acknowledges those histories that reside in both fact- and fiction-based narratives and values. This is important in mediating our understanding of “place” and “being.” As an Indigenous person of Māori descent from Aotearoa, New Zealand, this is an idea that also resonates with our culture. The Māori creation story, which articulates elemental understandings of “place” and “being,” has often been dismissed as Māori myth or legend stories through the process of British colonization. However, for the Māori, they present beliefs and understandings that shape our world view and determine the way in which we experience it. I am interested in exploring how a broader appreciation of the role of narrative, or histórias, can offer a richer understanding of Indigenous contemporary art practice – in particular contemporary Māori art – and how this might be presented within art institutions.
Modern Art Was Already Born Old

Indigenous populations have greatly influenced Brazilian art, but never acted as protagonists in art history. This presentation will discuss how Indigenous artists are occupying spaces and retelling the history of Brazil by using productions that we can consider as a new path towards representativeness and a new anthropophagy of art, bringing together ancestral knowledge – like graphisms and circular time – with digital artistic techniques and technologies.
2pm – 3:30pm
Museum and Indigenous Art: Challenges

My presentation will cross different themes emphasizing the figure of diversity and, specially, that of Indigenous rights. Without losing links to Western-European theory, I propose to work with the aforementioned concepts from approaches that allow me to grow closer to alternative creative and expressive methods whose contents overflow the restricting schemes of such theories – at least in its modern manifestation. This perspective will allow me to admit the fluctuation of the contours of art in the context of Indigenous cultures. Moreover, it will allow the handling of transversal perspectives to study phenomena that go beyond what is traditionally exhibited as “visual arts.” The aesthetic-visual aspect, which does not strictly coincide with the visual regime nor with the boundaries of art, crosses political, religious, and social scopes, though it also ignores the separations between disciplines that are traversed by such diagonal approaches. It is expected that such a perspective will allow us to deal with the challenges of a contemporary museum, in addition to opening itself to urgent issues concerning the Indigenous issues, such as territory, gender, marginality, migration, poverty, as well as environmental and cultural crisis.
Reframing Museum Narratives from an Indigenous Perspective

My presentation addresses the contest between settler-state narratives and Indigenous histories of place by examining a museum site in the Haudenosaunee homelands. In 1933, a replica of a French Jesuit mission was opened to the public on the shores of Onondaga Lake. The anachronistic Hollywood-style fort was popularly known as the “French Fort.” For over sixty years, it told a settler-focused story of attempts to convert and civilize the “savage Iroquois”, and then in 1992 the fort was reconstructed to more accurately reflect a seventeenth-century Jesuit mission. The facility closed in 2011 and was subsequently repurposed as the Skä•noñh Center for the Great Law of Peace in 2015. This completely reoriented the facility as an interpretive center focused on Haudenosaunee history and the events at the lake which led to the establishment of the Great Law. Onondaga elders, local academics, and local historical society members collaborated to create the current center and reclaim the space.
4pm – 5:30pm
Representation and First Nation Identities

There is widespread confusion about First Nation identities in both Brazil and Australia, where there are complex colonial and popular ideas about what it is to be Indigenous. The conversation between the Australian artist and curator Brook Andrew and the Brazilian artist Moara Brazil will discuss these themes, proposing a truer view concerning the identity of First Nations. Brook Andrew will reflect on the upcoming Biennale of Sydney, which opens in March 2020 under the title NIRIN, meaning “edge” in his mother tongue, the Wiradjuri people of New South Wales.  Seven themes inspire NIRIN: DHAAGUN (Earth: Sovereignty and Working Together); BAGARAY-BANG (Healing); YIRAWY–DHURAY (Yam Connection: Food); GURRAY (Transformation); MURIGUWAL GIILAND (Different Stories); NGAWAAL-GUYUNGAN (Powerful-Ideas: The Power of Objects); and BILA (River: Environment). NIRIN is driven by stories and grassroot practices to decentralize, challenge, and transform dominant narratives, shining a light on sites of being that are often ignored or rendered invisible. Moara will discuss the matrices of Indigenous identity and the resulting violence from the colonial processes within the construction of Brazil. She will present her investigations about Santarém, in western Pará, from where she started research to understand her own Indigenous identity as an icon of the colonization project within the Brazilian miscegenation process. As a result of the research, she will present her new project, the Museu da Silva, an artistic installation which will bring out provocations about what it is to be an Indigenous today. The conversation between the artists will connect realities of both Brazil and Australia in the context discussed.


A curator, artist, and researcher. PhD candidate in Curating at the University of Essex’s Centre for Curatorial Studies in Britain. His research involves issues of contemporary Indigenous curatorial practice and aesthetics, focusing on the curation of Taiwanese Indigenous contemporary art. His current research emphasizes the issues of participation, performativity, and the historiography of Indigenous curation and exhibition design. He received a MA in Cultural Policy, Relations & Diplomacy from the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2014. His most notable curatorial projects include Dispossessions: An Indigenous Performative Encounter 2014–19, an international performance art exchange of Indigenous artists from Taiwan. He recently curated Dispossessions: Performative Encounter(s) of Taiwanese Indigenous Contemporary Art, held at Goldsmiths in May 2018.
A Wiradjuri Celtic (Indigenous Australian) artist and curator who has been exhibiting internationally since 1996. His interdisciplinary practice presents a deeply researched reassessment of dominant narratives, often relating to colonialism and modernity. Recent works include In Vision of Nuance: Systems of Exposure (2019), at the Wuzhen International Contemporary Art Exhibition, China; The Space Between (2018), at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India; and What’s Left Behind (2018), at the Biennale of Sydney, Australia. He is the Artistic Director of the Biennale of Sydney 2020, a PhD Candidate at the Ruskin School of Art of the Oxford University, and Associate Professor of Fine Art at Monash University, Australia.  
Visual artist, holder of a Master’s degree in Human Rights from Universidade de Brasília, and coordinator of Rádio Yandê – first Indigenous web radio in Brazil. As an Indigenous activist, she works independently with communication, approaching matters related with the defense of human rights and Indigenous people. As a researcher in human rights education and peace culture, she is focused on the right to truth and memory by Indigenous people. In her painting and drawing works, she deals with cultural aspects of her people, the Tukano Yépá Mahsã, Indigenous resistance, women, and the strengthening of Indigenous identities.
Born in Mariuá, at the Rio Negro, in the Amazon. His trajectory as an artist began as a child, from the cultural references of his people. As a young man, the artist started his trajectory in the struggle for the rights of Indigenous people and the journey through the non-Indigenous universe, apprehending references that could help strengthening the stage of this resistance. Denilson Baniwa is an anthropophagist artist, for he appropriates Western language in order to decolonize them in his work. In his contemporary path, he has been consolidating himself as a reference, thus rupturing paradigms and opening paths to the protagonism of Indigenous people within national territory.
Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the National Gallery of Australia, having worked in the museum and art gallery sector for the last thirty years. She was employed in several state and national institutions throughout Australia, including the South Australia Museum, the National Museum of Australia, the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and, more recently, the National Gallery of Australia. She is a Churchill Fellow, has a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors’ in Anthropology, and is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University. Cubillo has written extensively, presented lectures and keynote addresses in national and international forums on subjects such as the repatriation of Australian Indigenous Ancestral Remains, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Culture, as well as Australian Indigenous Museology and Curatorship. Originating from Darwin, she is a Yanuwa, Larrakia, Bardi, and Wardaman woman from the “Top End” region of Australia and is the Inaugural Chair of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation since 2010.
National Gallery of Canada’s inaugural Audain Chair and Senior Curator of Indigenous Art. He is a Kanyen’kehaka (Mohawk) member of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, and an artist. Greg’s curatorial career began with work on the First People’s Hall at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (now Canadian Museum of History), followed by independently curated exhibitions. In 2000, he started at the National Gallery of Canada to bring Indigenous art into the Historical Canadian Art galleries and joined the contemporary art team as an Assistant Curator in 2002, then becoming the first Indigenous curator at the National Gallery of Canada. In 2008, Greg was appointed the inaugural Audain Chair and head of the department of Indigenous Art. In addition to numerous permanent collection exhibitions, Greg has curated and contributed to several major exhibitions, including the National Gallery’s first-ever solo exhibition for a First Nations artist, Norval Morrisseau: Shaman Artist (2006).
Currently Senior Curator at the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the primary focus of her research and writing has been to examine the intersection between Indigenous cultural knowledge and contemporary art. Working in the Native arts community since 1993, she has curated numerous exhibits, published articles on her research, and continues to seek opportunities to broaden discourse on global contemporary Indigenous arts. She is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and has strong family ties to the Choctaw and Kiowa communities.
Artist and independent curator. Coming from Pará, she is currently based in São Paulo. Recently, she has been dedicating herself to the movement of reclaiming the Indigenous identity – more precisely of the ethnicities of the region of Alter-do-Chão/Santarém –, where a similar movement has been taking place, in addition to her research about the erasure of the memory of her family, which hails from Cucurunã/Alter-do-Chão, part of the Borari ethnicity. She is now preparing her most recent project, Museu da Silva, to be exhibited in 2019. More than approaching her own research, this project seeks to unveil the consequences of the violent colonization processes that such people suffer today. Moara has been exhibiting since 2015, when she began to study about First Nations of Brazil. Her most recent works include the participation in the event Teko Porã and the collective exhibition “Re-antropofagia” – curated by Denilson Baniwa and Pedro Gradella, and held at the Art Center of UFF, Niterói, in 2019.
Nigel Borell (of Pirirakau, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Whakatōhea Māori tribal descent) is Curator of Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, where his research in both customary and contemporary Māori art is produced for publication and exhibition-making. Recent curatorial projects include: co-curating with Zara Stanhope The Moa Hunters, by Areta Wilkinson, for the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial, at the QAGOMA, Brisbane (2018); and The Māori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand, at the Auckland Art Gallery (2016) and deYoung Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2017). He was a member of the advisory panel for the New Zealand Venice Biennale project for 2019.
Of Guaraní Nhandewa origin and PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at the National Museum of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), she has worked with Indigenous education since 2004. Between 2012 and 2014, she worked as pedagogical coordinator of Indigenous education in the Education Office of the city of Maricá, Rio de Janeiro. She also curated the exhibition DjaGuata Porã: Rio de Janeiro Indígena, at Museu de Arte do Rio (2017).
A French art historian, a graduate of the École du Louvre and Institut national du patrimoine in Paris. She did her master’s thesis on the work of the South African artist Ernest Mancoba. In 2013, she started as curator at the Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice, where she organized exhibitions on the work of the artist and also of other contemporary names. Then, in 2015, she became the curator in charge of the Heritage Unit for Historical and Contemporary Globalization at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, in Paris. She notably curated the exhibition Paintings from Afar: The Museum Collection, in 2018.
Citizen of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation and Director of the Native American Indigenous Studies Program at Syracuse University, where he also teaches courses in the departments of Literature and Art History. He earned his PhD from Harvard University and has published a wide variety of articles on Native American literatures and visual culture. His recent publications include a coedited collection of essays titled Why You Can't Teach United States History Without American Indians (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), and a contributed chapter on museums and Indigenous North Americans in the Oxford Handbook of American Indian History (Oxford University Press, 2016).
Curator, professor, art critic, and cultural promoter. He was the president of the Association for the Support of Indigenous Communities of Paraguay, Culture Director of the city of Asunción, and Ministry of Culture of Paraguay. Author of the National Culture Law of Paraguay and coauthor of the National Heritage Law. He has published a dozen books on culture and art theory. Founded the Museo de Arte Indígena de Paraguay, composed of his collections. He was awarded several international prizes, in addition to receiving decorations from Argentina, Brazil, and France, and honorary PhD degrees from Argentinian universities. In Spain, he was awarded the Premio Bartolomé de las Casas for his support of Indigenous causes in America. He is the director of the Visual Arts Center/Museo del Barro.