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A more nuanced article on cultural appropriation 
Posted (2017-06-25)

Further to our earlier ‘call and response’ on cultural appropriation, this article makes some good points in favour of ‘appropriation’: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/opinion/in-defense-of-cultural-appropriation.html.

However he’s not talking about appropriation in some of his examples; namely The Scaffold and Emmett Till in His Coffin. For me, those are examples of cultural engagement. Surely, as people of pallor, we are allowed (in fact we should be encouraged) to look at our relationship with the Other. And works like these certainly do that.

Cultural engagement is best done in conversation with the Other, and these works are sparks. The artist who built The Scaffold as a stark reminder of the US Army’s assassination of 38 Dakota Sioux, turned his art piece over to their descendants to do what they would. I believe they dismantled it and burned it in ceremony.

The artist gave the sculpture to the Dakota leadership in response to an outcry from the Dakota who viewed it as a fresh assault. So a conversation of a kind did take place. If I were the artist I would have made that part of the art project. I would have asked 38 Dakota artists and elders to come and do what they wanted with it – burn it, use the lumber to build another art piece (or a house), or simply leave it as is. That’s a conversation.

Regards

David McLaren
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @JDavidMcLaren
Web: https://jdavidmclaren.wordpress.com/

 


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