Within and Outside: The American Indian Presence at the Venice Biennale, 1999–2009

Nancy Mithlo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History and American Indian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

IARC Speaker Series, SAR Boardroom

Friday, November 20, 2009, 5:30–6:30 pm

Nancy Mithlo, IARC Speaker SeriesNancy Mithlo, IARC Speaker SeriesIn November, Nancy Mithlo presented “Within and Outside: The American Indian Presence at the Venice Biennale, 1999–2009,” for the new IARC speaker series.Nancy Mithlo, IARC Speaker SeriesIn November, Nancy Mithlo presented “Within and Outside: The American Indian Presence at the Venice Biennale, 1999–2009,” for the new IARC speaker series.Nancy MithloNancy MithloPhotograph by Derek Jennings.Nancy MithloPhotograph by Derek Jennings. “Our Indian Princess”“Our Indian Princess”by Nancy Mithlo“Our Indian Princess”by Nancy Mithlo

The premise that globalization inherently corrupts indigenous populations frames many of the questions posed in response to the inclusion of American Indian contemporary arts in international settings. My research seeks to interrogate the established paradigm of the “West and the Rest” by locating American Indian artists as active producers of globalization in conversation with their artistic peers. The Venice Biennale is then both liberatory and restrictive in its effects, because indigenous artists themselves are conciliatory to the established structure of nationalism, but in addition, wish to avoid dated, preconceived notions of identity. Thus, the biennale platform provides a conventional narrative from which participants structure their aesthetic statements in coherence to, in reaction against, and in negotiation with established mainstream notions of contemporary art aesthetics. This “third space” consideration defies outdated notions of victimhood or oppression by conceptualizing American Indian curatorial practices (including reciprocity, mentorship, and long-term mutually-meaningful relationships) as creative and generative forms of knowledge production enacted simultaneously in local as well as transnational platforms.

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Nancy Marie Mithlo received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1993 and is an assistant professor of American Indian Studies and Art History at the University of Wisconsin. Her areas of research and teaching include: American Indian/First Nations/Indigenous contemporary arts and curatorial practice, visual anthropology, critical museum studies, ethnographic film, historic American Indian photography.

Publications include: “Our Indian Princess”: Subverting the Stereotype; A Real Feminine Journey”: Locating Indigenous Feminisms in the Arts; Re-appropriating Redskins—Pellerossasogna (Red Skin Dream): Shelley Niro at the 50th La Biennale di Venezia; and “Red Man’s Burden”: The Politics of Inclusion in Museum Settings.

Reading List

Mithlo, Nancy. “‘Give, Give, Giving’: Cultural Translations.” Vision, Space, Desire: Global Perspectives and Cultural Hybridity. Pp. 84–97. Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian: 2006.

Mithlo, Nancy. “Native American Art in a Global Art Context: Politicization as a Form of Aesthetic Response.” Exploring World Art. Eric Venbrux, Pamela Sheffield Rosi, and Robert L. Welsch, eds. Pp. 371–87. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press: 2006.

Mithlo, Nancy. “Re-appropriating Redskins—Pellerossasogna (Red Skin Dream): Shelley Niro at the 50th La Biennale di Venezia.” Visual Anthropology Review 20(2): 22–35: 2005.

Mithlo, Nancy. “‘Red Man’s Burden’: The Politics of Inclusion in Museum Settings.” American Indian Quarterly 28(3/4): 743–63: 2004.

Mithlo, Nancy. “The Redskins Critique—Trying to Experience the World Like the First Time.” Red Ink 11(2): 28–32: 2004.

Mithlo, Nancy. “‘We Have All Been Colonized’: Subordination and Resistance on a Global Arts Stage.” Visual Anthropology 17(3/4): 229–45: 2004.

Mithlo, Nancy. “Red Skin Dreams.” In La Biennale di Venezia 50 Exposizione Internationale D’Arte: Dreams and Conflicts-The Dictatorship of the Viewer. Francesco Bonami and Maria Luisa Frisa, eds. Pp. 642-43. Venice: Marcilio Editori: 2003.

Sponsored by Anne Ray Charitable Trust

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