From the Archives: Melissa Magnuson on ‘It’s not about the land’, Hoxton Arches,

A recent land trade between the US Forest Service and Rio Tinto Mining Corporation paved the way for Rio Tinto (headquartered in London) to build the largest copper mine in North America on land held sacred but not owned by Apache tribe members resulting in a protest movement by Apache activists. Spending time on location shooting photography, video and gathering material, I saw the impact of post colonialism through the activism, tribal rituals and day to day existence of people living on the “rez” in San Carlos. The American “Manifest Destiny” movement in the late 19th century left traces of the attempted cultural genocide by the US Government. In a remote Arizona desert location, the Apache community balances life between tribal traditions and a changing world. it’s not about the land attempts to represent the Apache people and their connection to the land without “othering” them. Working beyond my subject position was a daily intention during the process, and collaborating with the people in San Carlos reduced the potential of exoticizing them.

it’s not about the land does not presuppose a homogenous postcolonial victim and invites the viewer to consider the geopolitical realities of the San Carlos Apache community. Renegotiating the contradictory myths and what might be called history of the people, landscape and politics without a particular agenda is encouraged. The challenge is to allow the complexity of the material shape a point of view.

Utilizing large and medium format photography, video and in situ installations that include remnants of the desert community landscape, it’s not about the land not only explores the complexities of the Apaches’ relationship with the land but also my own position as an outsider.

it’s not about the land
Melissa Magnuson

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