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Post-colonialism's ugly head

Sometimes the carping is just part of the background noise, sometimes more agitated and angry.

Though the cowboy is a common enough trope for older physique mags, the commentary around native American depictions is more vehement, especially when the 'actor' cannot claim that heritage. The pictures now look somewhat odd, but they perhaps filled the desire for the exotic, for the other, the unattainable?


The criticism applies to other manifestations of popular culture. I think about Adam Ant and Apache concerns. But the buzz of complaint might be extended to encompass Picasso and ethnography, for example. Analysing the intention is fraught as there is no text to answer questions, and many commentators read into unfairly. Gauguin is often pilloried now, but Nolde, Stravinsky and many others could be added to the list.


When I use the Mayan pantheon as a spring-board for artwork I wonder that it might be seen as inappropriate. Mexico is a place where the European Conquest is an issue, but the recovery of the pre-Hispanic culture is a fascinating process and it reveals much about humanity, at its best and its worst. It is fascinating that the hoped for eradication of soldier and priest failed, radically failed, to erase language, race, thought. And the vestiges of ancient heritage are so strong there now. The art and architecture that remain captivate the viewer and display incredible beauty, even if it at times feels somewhat alien and distant.

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