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The Trickster Critique: How Parody in Contemporary Native American Art Challenges Authenticity and Authority within Mainstream Museums

Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Native American cultural objects have a history deeply embedded within the framework of the mainstream Western museum, a relationship that at points has been highly contentious. The collection and display practices of Indigenous objects within the Western museum has to an extent imposed a constructed identity upon Native makers and people. In response to this imposition, modern and contemporary Native American artists have used humor, specifically the trickster discourse, as a means of Native-based institutional critique. Contemporary Crow artist, Wendy Red Star employs this specific kind of parody in her series Four Seasons, which directly challenges the format of the diorama. Through examining Red Star's work, as well as that of other modern and contemporary Native artists, such as Jimmie Durham and James Luna, the use of humor, parody, and the trickster is revealed as an important tool of a Native-based institutional critique.

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