I’ve been reading through the material associated with this suppressed history of the Hopi potter Nampeyo and am convinced this is a case of abuse of power, cultural appropriation, censorship and racism.
Linda Wiener, a friend of the author Steve Elmore, has been blogging about the suit brought against Steve by the Peabody Museum of Harvard University after he self-published his book “In Search of Nampeyo: The Early Years, 1875-1892” and it proceeded to win awards. The book discusses, in part, a collection of Hopi pots in the museum’s collection. Steve is a southwestern art dealer and collector in Santa Fe and has been intensely interested in Nampeyo for decades. He is at the very least acquainted with many of her descendents, as an art trader, and travelled to the museum with one of them at one point, where they examined the Hopi collection and she helped him learn more about how to do identification.
The Hopi were not historically particularly disposed to sign their pots, so attribution of early work can be difficult.
Peabody originally contracted to co-publish the book, but after rejecting a couple of drafts, they signed a contract reversal and their representative encouraged Steve to get it published elsewhere. So he did it himself, and then, when the book started to take off, they sued him for a million dollars, claiming damage to their image because of his supposedly inadequate images, and filed an injunction to keep him from selling his book, the cost of which, 2500 count, ran him $37,000.
The whole suit is wrong on so many levels. Reading Linda’s detailed blog, it’s clear that Peabody was disingenuous about the contract. The photographs are, from what I have seen, just fine. People love the book. Many Hopi signed Linda’s change.org petition, including descendents of Nampeyo.
But this museum, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that they not only own this Hopi pottery in their collection, which they didn’t recognize as Nampeyo’s early work, but also that they are entitled to control how it is visually represented, and that this right supersedes all claims, despite it being work of a woman from another culture, another nation. As if rigidly controlling images of art does not work to control stories about art, stories about artists, and the stories the art itself tells. As if it’s possible to separate any of these things. As if it’s morally acceptable to do so, in order to ensure you maximize your profits from your extra special photos of work you have nothing to do with, work you wound up with by the whim of some collector.
I find this story really disturbing. You can read the petition here:
And you can read Linda’s blog here:
And you can peruse Steve’s website here:
You go girl. x
I’m working through some ideas here that really go against the grain of current beliefs (I use this word deliberately) about gender and sexual “identity”.
I think it would be worse now than it was in the nineties growing up as female and particularly as a lesbian. I think that Neoliberalism, with it’s bastardisation of feminism and the promotion of identity politics has made it worse.
There has been a cultural shift towards the primacy of the individual and rather than recognising and fighting against gender as being oppressive, we have just added more categories of self expression and called it “doing/queering gender.” Look, we are all special little snowflakes with our own personalities and ways of expressing ourselves in the world. That isn’t gender. Gender is hierarchical, gender is oppressive, gender is about hegemony, it is about class, it is not about clothes or how we feel. Let’s critique…
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He offers to be paid to mow the lawn. I agree and he starts in. The police arrive. There is a long conversation about some previous issue.
Then his line trimmer breaks.
He assures me he will finish. I say that’s all right, he’s done enough for the forty bucks. Which he has.
He says he will finish it himself, because that’s the kind of guy he is.
I finish it myself, the next week.
Then it rains. It rains a lot. About a month later, he mows all the grass without my permission.
I put up a No Trespassing sign on the fence, for a few days.
Months later, the neighbor asks me if I want some rocks. She is nice, I like her. Her son sits like a stone on the porch, as we arrange the rocks on my hand truck. They are nice rocks.
Recently, I am outside at night and the son is lying on the sidewalk by my fence, with a flashlight. He has lost a ball. He likes to hang out on the street in front of his mother’s house. He has his own house here in town. I do not know why he spends so much time here.
He is playing with his mother’s dogs on the street. His mother has half an acre of yard in the back with a six foot fence.
He tells me the ball is in my yard, that it was a bad bounce. The dog yaps furiously. I ask him to wait. He tells me that if my dogs are inside I could let his mother’s dog in my yard and that dog could find the ball. My gate is locked, as usual. I live with only one dog, and have for almost a year.
I again ask him to wait, and I get my flashlight and my glasses and find the tennis ball and hand it to him.
“Mrs. O’Brien, you’re the bomb!” he says.
That is not my name.
Because I so often find myself answering the same questions over and over (both in real life and online), I decided I start a Lesbian FAQs list.
If you have anything else you’d like me to add in a future post, please just comment here (Note: only polite & serious comments will be published), or please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, without further ado, welcome to the Lesbian FAQ’s:
Made with #PicsArt
FAQ #1: “Can any woman can be a lesbian?”
Answer: Nope. See Magical Thinking.
FAQ #2: “Which one of you (in a lesbian relationship) is the ‘man one’?”
Answer: Neither. We are lesbians, therefore both women.
FAQ #3: “Are all lesbians either Butch or Femme?”
Answer: No. In fact, very few lesbians are either, although many incorrectly label themselves as such (particularly as Butch). See: Deciphering Butch/Femme
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We don’t all get along, but by gum we can get things done.
Back around 1990 you told me never to ask you for anything again, because you put me on one of your credit cards and I spent a thousand or two more than you had in mind. And then decades later you stole my guitar and gave it away, and never told me until I asked. There are other examples.
I don’t know how to negotiate asking you for anything. The rules seem clear: never ask you for anything, and what’s mine is yours. It’s all yours, and you can take it away any time you want.
So. I have worked on learning to live without. This is my job. This is my art. The better I get at living without, the more likely I will survive the next surprise. The less I need, the less I can live with, the more I have.
I know you don’t see it this way. But it’s how I have learned to see it. My work is, ultimately, not to need anything, because it’s the only way to avoid the leash.
I don’t mean to say this is logical, or sensible, or anything like that. Just that this is the person I have become. One whose job is primarily to avoid the leash.
I wish it wasn’t like this, and there is more to me. You know that. You have been very kind, you have been endlessly supportive. But the leash is always there.
I don’t know why I allow this. It’s a bit of a sad deal, this tawdry mess, these broken dreams. These shells breaking under my feet across the floor, these alarming early morning sorrows. Why do you own this. Why do I let you. Why didn’t I make something else where you couldn’t get in.
I should have left decades ago. I should have chewed through the leash, broken a few teeth in the process. I should have ran until I could not run anymore.
I did run, but I didn’t run far enough. I’ll never get rid of you. You’ll die before me, perhaps, and you’ll still be there harping at me like a cockatoo on my shoulder, pointing stuff out, being corrective, chirping. You’ll never go away.
I am stuck with you forever and ever. What to make of this? The brilliant advice you gave me, the obvious fact that you never gave up on me, that you never wanted to end this communication?
You are my mother. I can’t fix this. It’s not a thing that can be fixed or even needs fixing. We just are, mother and daughter. Stuck.
“Going Home to Mother”
On the plus side, you are one hell of a good writer. Stay strong. x
I’ve been feeling old, lately.
Ugly, aged, and… 2 dimensional.
So much has changed in the 3 and a bit years since my mental health crisis. I’m an entirely different person with an entirely different life. In so many ways that is a positive result, but there’s one long-standing aspect of that recovery that has really started to get to me.
I don’t have an identity anymore.
I think many addicts go through this when they step into recovery. You mourn the loss of your chosen substance(s), and the people who came with them. Addicts design their entire lives around their ability to get high so when they take that requirement away from themselves it very quickly becomes apparent just how substanceless their lives were when they lived under the influence.
There was a lot of catching up with the world to be done when I quit Escapism.
I suddenly had all this…
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