Views Of Shinnecock: An Exhibition of Photography by Jeremy Dennis

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November 1
through November 30

ON VIEW NOVEMBER 1–DECEMBER 31

 

The photography of Jeremy Dennis explores indigenous identity, cultural assimilation, and the ancestral traditional practices of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

 

 

 

Though science has solved many questions about natural phenomena, questions of identity are more abstract—the answers more nuanced. His work is a means of examining identity and the identity of his community, specifically the unique experience of living on a sovereign Indian reservation and the problems faced there.

 

"Digital photography lets me create cinematic images. Nowhere have indigenous people been more poorly misrepresented than in American movies. My images question and disrupt the post-colonial narrative that dominates in film and media and results in damaging stereotypes, such as the “noble savage” depictions in Disney’s Pocahontas. As racial divisions and tensions reach a nationwide fever pitch, it’s more important to me than ever to offer a complex and compelling representation of indigenous people. I like making use of the cinema’s tools, the same ones directors have always turned against us (curiously familiar representations, clothing that makes a statement, pleasing lighting), to create conversations about uncomfortable aspects of post-colonialism. For example, in my 2016 project, “Nothing Happened Here,” stylized portraits of non-indigenous people impaled by arrows symbolize, in a playful way, the “white guilt” many Americans have carried through generations, and the inconvenience of co-existing with people their ancestors tried to destroy."

—Jeremy Dennis

 

Despite four hundred years of colonization, the Shinnecock remain anchored to their land by ancient stories. The indigenous mythology that influences Jeremy Dennis’ photography grants him access to the minds of his ancestors, including the value they placed on their sacred lands. By outfitting and arranging models to depict those myths, he strives to continue his ancestors’ tradition of storytelling and showcase the sanctity of the land, elevating its worth beyond a prize for the highest bidder.

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