DIS/POSSESSION

Andy Warhol, Sitting Bull.
Andy Warhol, Sitting Bull (detail), 1986
Photo credit: Courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum
Through August 7, 2022
Northwest Ambulatory (directions)

Many museums have begun to write and display statements that acknowledge the indigenous communities past and present that have lived on and stewarded the natural resources of land now occupied by the institution. But how can—and should—the act of writing such a statement transform the museum?

Over the course of the 2021–22 academic year, this experimental installation and series of related programs and conversations will inform the writing of a land acknowledgement for the AMAM. In addition to examining the history of the land that we now call Oberlin, we will consider the ways that both museums and works of art are complicit in histories of dispossession. As the title suggests, the project invites visitors as well as museum staff to consider how dispossession and possession are inextricably linked: When one person or institution possesses something, someone else is dispossessed.

DIS/POSSESSION will reveal how images are tools of colonization that create and reinforce dominant white historical narratives. In fall 2021, the installation and related programs will explore the role that canonical American art has played in the erasure of indigenous peoples and their stories. In spring 2022, we will consider the theme more broadly, asking how the AMAM has been able to grow and thrive as a direct result of global histories of dispossession.


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