Contemporary Native Artists and International Biennial Culture

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Abstract

Ensconced throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s in institutions dedicated to Native art, in recent years Native artists and curators have turned their attention to the opportunities for global visibility afforded by international exhibitions and art fairs, with particular focus on the Venice Biennale. Formerly focused on issues specific to the history of settler colonialism in the United States and Canada—land, treaty rights, and sovereignty; citizenship and the legal fictions of identity and blood quantum—the work of Native artists in the 21st century has come to share much with the work of a current generation of “itinerant artists” active in the international art world. Taking recent Native participation in the Venice Biennale as a case study, this article considers the new global visibility of Native artists and the problematics of “going global” for Native artists, whose aesthetic authority has been figured as literally “grounded” specific local landscapes.

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