Essays on the complex relations between Native Americans and European Americans as seen through photography
“A fearless scholar who treads where few others dare, Lucy Lippard delights in stripping away comfortable images and clichés about photography and about Native Americans. . . . Not since Susan Sontag’s On Photography have there been such original and daring statements about photography.” —from the preface by Leslie Marmon Silko
In Partial Recall, twelve Native American artists and writers look deep into the images that have shaped our ideas of “Indianness,” and explore the complex relationship of photography to identity.
For this volume, edited and introduced by Lucy R. Lippard, each contributor has chosen one or two photographs as the point of departure for their original poetic, historical, political, or autobiographical essays. From family-album snapshots to archival images (a top-hatted Geronimo at the wheel of a car, a nineteenth-century Indian School football team, two young women in Victorian dress on a “fainting couch”), the authors pursue the unexpected as they reveal the sometimes humorous, sometimes disturbing role of images in the relationships of native and nonnative peoples during the last century.
Lippard’s introduction includes her own discussion of a photograph received as a postcard, and deftly turns to the complexities of cultures portraying themselves and one another. Partial Recall explores the ways the past is hidden through romanticism, social amnesia, and exclusion. “This book,” Lippard writes, “is an attempt to peel away from these pictures the myths of various ‘discoveries,’ ‘conquests,’ and ‘frontiers’ that have constructed our tragic mutual history, and to put the photos back in the hands of their subjects.”
With an additional portfolio of more than sixty photographs drawn from around the country, Partial Recall is a unique and valuable anthology.