CAPTURED: A review of Rainmaker’s Native American photography exhibition

5 March – 30 May 2015 This article is published in Trebuchet Magazine. I was the Assistant Curator for this exhibition.

'Nikki' by Cara Romero

‘Nikki’ by Cara Romero

‘Captured’ is a groundbreaking exhibition at Rainmaker Gallery, Bristol, in which contemporary Native American photographers shed new light on both the uses of photography and indigenous American life. Together, the six artists represent eight different tribes and each have very distinctive styles and techniques. Their contributions consist of close-up black-and-white portraits, composite photographs woven together, sepia images that are so clear and detailed they look akin to etchings, compositional recreations of famous film scenes, and even a ‘talking’ tintype. This makes for an eclectic mixture of work, although the pieces are united by the artists’ desires to have Native people assert themselves as powerfully present individuals. The bold and often colourful images challenge preconceived notions of American Indians conjured by popular non-Native photographers, such as Edward Curtis (1868-1952), who have fixed in time romanticised ideas about indigenous life. So by presenting work where Native people themselves hold the cameras, this exhibition provides a much-needed reassessment of photography relating to American Indians and their relationships with the photographic lens. It is particularly important for revealing that in reality, their tribal cultures are continually evolving and are no less authentic today than in the past. This is a vast project for Rainmaker Gallery to communicate in its first ever photography exhibition held in its productive twenty-five year history of exhibiting contemporary Native American art. But there is no doubt that the gallery has achieved its unique and important aims.  Continue reading

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