Indigenous New York: Solidarity through Artistic Practice



Emily Johnson leading the final performance

In collaboration with Mohawk artist Alan Michelson and Tlingit artist Stephen Paul Jackson, the first event of Indigenous NYC was hosted by the Vera List Center and Michelson at The New School on April 25. Entitled MOVEMENT: The New Global Indigenous, the event brought together indigenous and non-indigenous speakers and participants to consider the potentiality of a global indigenous movement on the occasion of Maori artist Jack Gray’s artist residency at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU. Reflecting on his residency, Gray recounted the research, workshops, and public performances that addressed issues of host and visitor, and asked what it means to be an indigenous artist hosted by a settler institution on indigenous land. Art critic and doctoral candidate Chris Green framed colonization as a highly choreographed endeavor and discussed the way indigenous artists are retracing these vectors of conquest as an act of decolonization. A lively discussion was led by New School Assistant Professor Jaskiran Dhillon about movement and performance in indigenous art contexts, followed by a closing performance with audience participation led by Yup’ik dancer and Guggenheim Fellow Emily Johnson.


Audience participating in a circle discussion

This fall, the Indigenous NYC will continue working with Alan Michelson and Stephen Paul Jackson on their second event, slated for October 15. Scheduled to coincide with the Scales of Visibility in Global Indigenous Art conference at the CUNY Graduate Center on October 14, our Saturday event will entail a discussion and workshop on indigenous arts in contemporary art museums with curators and artists. The CUNY conference has already confirmed Jolene Rickard, Candice Hopkins, Fred Myers, and Wanda Nanibush as speakers. This event will ask why indigenous artists are so rarely considered contemporary artists and invited to participate in contemporary art institutions. Questions of identity, authenticity, institutionalized discrimination, heritage, and post democracy will be raised as the participants grapple with what it means to be a contemporary indigenous artist.


Artist Jack Gray giving a presentation