Think more about the biennial decision

Posted: 10/15/2021 3:58:16 PM There have been so many letters to the editor and articles on the Art Biennale; I’m surprised at the...



Posted: 10/15/2021 3:58:16 PM

There have been so many letters to the editor and articles on the Art Biennale; I’m surprised at the level of passion it has generated and how one-sided the coverage has been.

I would like to take the space to express my outrage and sadness at something else, the atrocity of residential schools. In 1891, the United States enacted a law requiring “all” Indigenous children to be forcibly removed from their families and communities and sent to remote residential facilities. Modeled on prisoner of war camps, children have been brutally indoctrinated and abused. For more than 150 years, hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children have been removed from their communities, in the United States and Canada, where the model has been exported.

Schools had their own cemeteries to bury the many children who died there; put in anonymous graves and never return to their families. In Canada, they have found over 1,000 children so far. Families who resisted were imprisoned. The sole purpose of the residential school was to destroy Native American culture and identity.

It is in this context and in the context of the whole history of stolen land, trauma and lack of recognition of Native Americans today that we all experience and therefore, the Biennale also exists. It also exists in a context of the art world itself, which from museums to schools to the persecution of graffiti artists is rife with racism.

We can choose to ignore the context and continue to reproduce the trauma, or we can choose to stop – even imperfectly – and reflect on the context and history that we are all a part of. The artist who created the work “ghosts” refused to withdraw his work and refused to rethink the harm it caused.

The Gazette has, in fact, repeatedly promoted his work, even using it for Jessica Tam’s editorial on racism against Asian Americans and the issue of invisibility. A follow-up article asked whether this person should apologize, but surprisingly did not offer the question to Jason Montgomery, who was in fact the target of death threats.

The contexts of the residential school atrocities and today’s events are all intertwined. Let’s take the opportunity to focus on the Arts Council’s suggestions: “Sit down with your discomfort, think alongside us and try to respect this decision”. We should also reflect on what Jason Montgomery called: the larger issue overshadowing the Biennale of a white-dominated society, including in the art world. This is where the discussion must begin.

Rachel Telushkin

Easthampton



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Newsrust - US Top News: Think more about the biennial decision
Think more about the biennial decision
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Newsrust - US Top News
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