Exhibit Information

Bard Graduate Center Gallery

Address 18 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
Click here for quick directions
Phone Number 212-501-3000

Website http://www.bgc.bard.edu/

OBJECTS OF EXCHANGE:

Opening: 26 JANUARY 2011 - Closing: 17 APRIL 2011

OBJECTS OF EXCHANGE:

Social & Material Transformation on the Late 19th-Century Northwest-Coast

 

[26 January through 17 April 2011]

 

The Bard Graduate-Center—devoted to Decorative-Arts, Design-History, & Material-Culture—now has a new Focus-Gallery. It’s designed to feature Small-Scale-Exhibitions, resulting from explorations of BGC Faculty & Students.

 

These shows will be the culmination of Research-Seminars.

 

The Big-Idea is that focusing on Objects & Contexts—within the framework of an Academic-Seminar—will provoke new ways of Thinking, Teaching, & Exhibiting.

 

As the Bard is not a Museum, burdened with Permanent-Collections, its first Focus has borrowed its Objects from the American Museum of Natural-History, which is only about ten blocks down Central Park West!

 

The current show explores the latter half of the 19th-Century as a period of rapid & dramatic change for the Indigenous-Peoples of the Northwest-Coast of North-America.

 

Faced with increasing Colonial-Interventions involving Commerce, Christianity, & Settlement, earlier modes of Cultural-Practice & Artistic-Production were refigured to accommodate these new circumstances.

 

[Translation: "Let’s begin making Souvenirs for Settlers & Tourists. We can also sell-off worn-out Ritual-Masks to the American Museum of Natural-History!”]

 

To quote & adapt from Bard’s Press-Release: "This was also the period of Rampant Museum-Collection on the Coast, as thousands of objects—both Quotidian [in Daily-Use] & Ceremonial—were transferred to Global-Metropolitan-Centers. [Big-Cities!]

 

"Yet the resulting Exhibitions often de-historicized the materials, in an attempt to reconstruct Pre-Contact-Cultural-Patterns or to classify Tribal-Aesthetic-Styles.

 

"While these Collections are typically seen to provide touchstones of ‘Traditional’ Art, they are rather [or instead] Repositories of Objects that were witness-to—& results-of—Significant-Cultural-Upheaval.

 

"Objects of Exchange examines the Material-Culture of the Period as Visual-Evidence of Historical-Flux & Shifting-Social-Relations within Native-Groups, as well as between Natives & the Settler-States that increasingly surrounded them.”

 

[Translation: "This land & the fishing are too good to leave to the Injuns! Let’s restrict them to Reservations!”]

 

"It focuses on transitional or boundary Objects—the ones that don’t fit well-established Stylistic or Cultural Categories but, instead, document Patterns of Intercultural Exchange & Transformation.”

 

This fascinating show has been drawn from a wide variety of objects from the Collection at the American Museum of Natural History. It ranges from Decorated-Clothing & Containers, to Ritual-Masks & Trade-Goods.

 

But even in objects or fabrics made for the White-Invaders, the elemental Native design-motifs of were not lost. It’s worth noting that in many so-called Primitive-Communities, even domestic items & objects were given distinctive Artistic-Decoration.

 

Not just the Ritual-Masks…
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