Friday, March 05 - 5:00PM to 6:00PM
Historical photographs of Native American and global Indigenous communities have, and in some
cases continue, to contribute to the construction of perceived identities and visual stereotypes of native
peoples. However, this outsider's perspective reveals more about the non-native photographer than the
subject when compared to the works of Indigenous photographers who are visually documenting their
own communities and regions. From as early as 1899, Native American photographers have been working
in the medium; commissioned for portraits, documenting events, and recording daily life and community
in this early form of visual sovereignty. Indigenous photographers and their sitters had the agency to
choose when, where and the manner in which they wished to be imaged and documented.
Contemporary Indigenous photographers continue this practice while also being uniquely positioned
to counter these earlier misrepresentations created by non-native photographers. The field of Native
American photography is supported by a rich and continuous history that spans across the continent and
is embedded in contemporary works that encompass a wide range of genres and subject matter including
documentary, landscape, portraiture, political activism and (re)visioning, by utilizing a variety of imaging
and printing techniques.
In April 2009, Tsinhnahjinnie and Passalacqua hosted the second gathering of Indigenous photographers
at the C.N. Gorman Museum, University of California Davis. The conference and accompanying
exhibition, entitled Visual Sovereignty, includes works by Native American, Hawaiian, First Nations, Inuit,
Maori and Aboriginal lens-based artists. Tsinhnahjinnie will speak about her perspective of the concept
of visual sovereignty while Passalacqua will examine how visual sovereignty is employed in the structure
of the conference and exhibition as well as within artists' works.