Friday, July 11, 2014

will wilson, zig jackson, and the "normal man"


In the Museum of the American Indian - the DC one, not Santa Fe - to see the Will Wilson/Larry McNeil show (very good, but disappointingly small) - both use platinum prints to (re)present today's Indian, either through forms of photo-collage or, in Wilson's case, portraits that deliberately echo, riff off, look back to, re-appropriate Edward Curtis.  Wilson styles himself a "transcustomary artist" - I love the phrase, not least because it describes what I do when I step away from pure digital: he uses digitally derived negatives to make his platinum prints.  Actually, his process is even more complicated.  he has his sitters pose before a non-digital view camera, makes tin type portraits of them, scans the tin type, and gives the tintype to them in exchange for the rights to continue to use their likeness.

It was a no-photographing gallery, so I apologize for yet another appropriation, but it was irresistible, and amplifies the point in hand.  So I'm looking at the image to the right of the one in the foreground.  This couple are standing in front of Wilson's portrait of Zig Jackson, himself well known for his pictures of tourists photographing Indians.  This portrait involves Jackson and Wilson leveling their cameras at each other.  The large man (both of them were looking just like Duane Hanson's tourists) was mansplaining the Mandan to the woman (Jackson is part Mandan), including their C19th near obliteration through smallpox.  Large woman peers more closely: "So - he's Indian?  Oh, I thought it was a picture some Indian took of a normal man."


No comments:

Post a Comment