In this paper, Truthiness, a mixed-media artwork by contemporary artist Andrea Carlson (Grand Portage Ojibwe), is utilized as a case study to illustrate the contexts for Carlson’s repeated artistic engagement with “cultural cannibalism.” Specifically, in Truthiness, from Carlson’s Windigo Series, the artist confronts settler colonizers’ historical labeling of Native Americans as “cannibals” and their own past and ongoing cultural cannibalization in the United States. As Carlson notes, this consumption ranges from opportunistic museum acquisitions to the roles of settlers in the 1862 Dakota Uprising. To analyze Carlson’s work, an iconographical and semiotics approach centered around the concept of symbolic anthropophagy is taken; as her utilization of many layered references demonstrates, Carlson herself engages in a form of cultural cannibalism through her appropriation and use of readily identifiable symbols and artworks in her work. As a whole, this paper aims to emphasize how, in Truthiness, Carlson flips visually the historical narrative that labeled Indigenous peoples as cannibals to label settler colonizers as windigos, insatiable monsters who consume without consequence.
Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Ersatz Truths: Andrea Carlson’s Exploration of Settler Cultural Cannibalism
Olivia E. Murphy; Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Ersatz Truths: Andrea Carlson’s Exploration of Settler Cultural Cannibalism. Ethnic Studies Review 1 October 2023; 46 (3): 48–72. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/esr.2023.46.3.48
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