In{DI}genuity: Curating Materiality*

Aslaug M. Juliussen: HornKule (2001) in front of Rose-Marie Huuva: Shirri (1990). From the exhibition Intersections
Seminar in Tromsø, 19 March 2019, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum

Aslaug M. Juliussen   ∣  Kim Paton   ∣  Warwick Freeman   ∣  Nancy Marie Mithlo  ∣  Clementine Bordeaux   ∣ Jérémie Michael McGowan   Charis Gullickson

In{DI}genuity: Curating Materiality*  was a seminar that brought together four contributors to discuss curating indigenous and/or material-based exhibitions. A long line of artists with indigenous backgrounds are followers of an “artist first” or post-indigenous ideology. The phrase implies a rejection of false and biased categorization and draws attention to the fact that the artist’s indigeneity is not necessarily validated through their art. This then results in two scenarios: one of a post-identity artist that minimizes her or his indigenous identity versus a sovereign directive promoting a uniquely indigenous aesthetic. 

How do we move beyond an eitheror to a bothand perspective of understanding art? How can the curator play a proactive role? What techniques can cultural institutions use to invite visitor and community participation? Materiality can be used as a tool to connect the everyday with the museum as well as to challenge the categories, language and hierarchies when speaking about art.

To encourage interaction and discussion during presentations, each presenter shares their most current research project in three modules, with a pause for questions and answers in-between. A presentation is not to involve reading a paper and answering questions afterward. In sum, each presenter prepares 18 – 24 minutes of talking-including-visuals- (&/or audio-visuals) divided into 4 or 5 modules. The rest of the 40 minutes will be filled with questions and dialog with the actively participating audience. Due to the format attendance is by invitation only. 

Organized on the occasion of the exhibition Intersections at Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum the In(DI)genuity seminar is a collaboration between Norwegian Crafts, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum and the Worlding Northern Art (WONA) research group at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway.

* The term “indigenuity” is borrowed from the artists Joar Nango and Silje Figenschou Thoresen and The Indigenuity Project where they travelled in Sápmi to investigate “the local and indigenous ingenuity in everyday design.”

Iver Jåks: Dråpene(1981) in front of Aslaug M. Juliussen: HornKjede (2006) and Forbindelse (2004). From the exhibition Intersections

Contributor's bios

Nancy Marie Mithlo, Ph.D. (Chiricahua Apache) is a Professor of Gender Studies and an Affiliated Faculty with the American Indian Studies Center at University of California Los Angeles. Her curatorial work has resulted in nine exhibitions at the Venice Biennale. Formerly an Associate Professor of Art History at Occidental College and Chair of American Indian studies at the Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles), in 2017/18, she served as a University of California Los Angeles Institute of American Cultures, American Indian Studies Center Visiting Scholar, a Brown University George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellow and a Getty Research Institute Guest Researcher.

Using interviews from key contemporary American Indian women artists over a 20-year time frame, her first manuscript, “Our Indian Princess”: Subverting the Stereotype, (School of Advanced Research Press 2009) demonstrated how derogatory images that can and do inflict harm may also be mobilized through creative inversion, re-appropriation and critique as inert and useful interpretative formats. Mithlo’s scholarly intervention considers the Venice Biennale as a site of knowledge-production – an inert space where various agendas of inclusion and exclusion can be experienced, debated and ultimately theorized. Her manuscript A/Part of This World: Indigenous Curation at the Venice Biennale is under contract with the State University of New York Press. A volume of her collected essays titled Knowing Native Arts will be published with the University of Nebraska Press. Mithlo has taught at the University of New Mexico, the Institute of American Indian Arts, Smith College, California Institute for the Arts and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kim Paton is the director of Objectspace in Auckland, the leading public gallery in New Zealand dedicated to craft, design and architecture. She holds a First Class Honours degree in Sculpture and has also studied business management, she previously held academic positions at Massey University, Wellington and Wintec School of Media Arts, Hamilton where she was head of Research. Kim has curated and written extensively on craft and contemporary art, and is co-author of the book Contemporary Jewellery in Context, published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers and released in July 2017. In November 2017 she delivered the keynote lecture Contemporary Craft: In the Margin, at the International symposium Crafting Utopia and Dystopia in Trondheim, Norway.

Warwick Freeman has been a jewellery maker since 1972.
In the early 1980s Warwick emerged as a leading practitioner in the development of a significant style of jewellery-making that is now recognised internationally as a unique expression of New Zealand culture. This work is characterised by the use of natural materials such as bone, stone and shell.
His works are held in museum collections Internationally: The National Gallery of Australia, The National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of South Australia; Auckland Museum, The Dowse Art Museum, Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand; Danner Stiftung Pinakothek Der Moderne - Munich; Houston Museum of Fine Arts; LACMA – Los Angeles; V&A – London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Schmuckmuseum – Pforzheim and others.
He was the founding Chair of Objectspace the leading public gallery in New Zealand dedicated to craft, design and architecture.
The Arts Foundation of New Zealand named him an Arts Laureate in 2002 and his international standing was recognised by the Françoise van den Bosch Foundation, based at the Stedelijk Museum, who named him their 2002 Laureate.
Publications of his work include: Owners Manual - 1995 and Given - 2004.
His work is represented in many major survey publications of international Contemporary jewellery.
He co-curated Wunderrūma Schmuck aus Neuseeland. This large survey of New Zealand contemporary jewellery was exhibited in Munich and New Zealand In 2014.He lives and works in Auckland.

Charis Gullickson, MA, The Arctic University of Norway, is a curator at Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum, Tromsø. She specialises in contemporary art from the circumpolar north and has curated several exhibitions on Sámi art and craft with accompanying publications, among others, I Craft, I Travel Light (2017), Sámi Stories (2014), Tech-Stiles (2012) and Iver Jåks (2010). Curator of Aslaug M. Juliussen: Intersections and editor of the accompanying book Aslaug M. Juliussen: Intersections (Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2018)