Indigenous Histories is a major exhibition at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, curated by indigenous artists and researchers.
Indigenous Histories website 2023
In 2023, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo has dedicated its programming to indigenous people and indigenous arts, which have largely been excluded from museums in the past. The museum's exhibition Indigenous Histories shows indigenous art practice and activism from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), North America (Canada and Mexico) and South America (Brazil and Peru). The programme's exhibitions will be curated or co-curated by indigenous curators or artists of indigenous origin.
The programme will include exhibitions, courses, lectures, workshops and publications. These activities will examine and debate the complexity of indigenous materials, cultures, philosophies and cosmologies; how they are represented in art; and why the official history of indigenous art has been silenced.
New Zealand curator Nigel Borell is curating the New Zealand gallery, which shows the work of 14 Māori artists, and contributing to an exhibition catalogue and anthology. Pieces by Arnold Manaaki Wilson, Sandy Adsett, Elizabeth Ellis, Mere Lodge, Benjamin Pittman, Ngataiharuru Taepa, Lonnie Hutchinson, Mahia Te Kore, Tanu Gago, Lady Shaka, James Kururangi-Tapsell, Jessica Hinerangi, Linda Munn, Jan Dobson, Hiraina Marsden, Merata Mita and Heperi Mita are included in the show.
Before launching Indigenous Histories, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo presented four two-day seminars on indigenous cultures and materials, and the challenges for museums working in these domains. In the second seminar (July 2019), Nigel presented "Stories: Contemplating Fact, Fiction, Truth and Myth for Indigenous Peoples". He examined how appreciating the role of narrative, or "stories", can give us a richer understanding of contemporary indigenous artistic practice – especially contemporary Māori art – and how to present it in art institutions. After this seminar, the director of Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Adriano Pedrosa, invited Nigel to be a guest curator of Indigenous Histories.
In the fourth seminar (2021), New Zealand curator Megan Tamati Quennell presented "A Seat at the Table", which looks at what it was like to be a Māori woman artist from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Indigenous Histories is the latest of Museu de Arte de São Paulo's programme themes. In past years the museum has programmed its activities around the history of sexuality (2017), Afro-Atlantic (2018) and feminism and women (2019). This approach reflects the museum's mission to use visual art to have critical dialogue between the past and present, and between different cultures and territories.
Indigenous Histories will be exhibited at Museu de Arte de São Paulo until February 2024. It then travels to the Kode Bergen Art Museum, where it will be shown until August 2024.
Published 02 November 2023
"In the last few years, people have started to notice what museums in the Global South are doing, and those museums are organizing more ambitious exhibitions in their own right."
October 2023 to February 2024
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