I love museums, and as an art history minor, I was required to read several institutional critiques similar to Luke’s. While I have never felt personally assaulted by this wave of political overture during any visit to any museum, I am aware that these political threads do indeed run deep. When you start to pick apart the pieces of any institution, such as the Heard Museum in Phoenix, we can begin to understand the subtle nature of the normalization, discursive persuasion, and commodification of cultural heritage.
Strange that as Mrs. Heard and Mr. Harvey were busy gathering “authentic” native artifacts, which were supposed to represent an authentic past, they were also requiring that these artifacts accommodate a new end, the tourists of the American Southwest. These objects, then, no longer represent their previous utility, yet they continue to define the “authentic” works produced by Native Americans.
It makes me think, how should I represent the history that I want to tell? Are there any political ‘land mines’ that I should be aware of? Will my representation neutralize, expand, or explain any particular perspective over another? Should it?