Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation
“They Advanced to the Portraits of Their Friends and Offered Them Their Hands”: Robert Houle, Ojibwa Tableaux Vivants, and Transcultural Materialism
2017. "“They Advanced to the Portraits of Their Friends and Offered Them Their Hands”: Robert Houle, Ojibwa Tableaux Vivants, and Transcultural Materialism", Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation, Jessica L. Horton
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This chapter explores the capacity of pictures to counter the objectification and death of indigenous performers abroad. Paris/Ojibwa, Robert Houle’s installation at the Canadian Cultural Center in Paris in 2010, revisits Ojibwa people who performed tableaux vivants, or living pictures, in European cities from 1845 to 1846. Houle designed a stage on which paintings of the Ojibwas based on sketches by Eugène Delacroix are poised to perform. Drawing on Bruno Latour’s influential text We Have Never Been Modern, Horton argues that tableaux vivants contaminated modern categories of human and nonhuman and made way for Ojibwa understandings of the potential personhood of images and objects. Tableaux vivants reversed Catlin’s ambition to preserve “disappearing” cultures: instead of turning live Natives into static images, they reanimated pictures. The installation rejects the “new” of the recently popular “new materialisms” and broadens Latour’s European “we,” modeling transcultural materialism in the center of Paris.