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Presence is Power: An Evening of Indigenous Short Films

Olin Arts Center, Bates Museum of Art Galleries
75 Russell Street
Lewiston, Maine 04240
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Immerse yourself in a wide variety of Indigenous short films alongside Bates Museum of Art’s current exhibition Exploding Native Inevitable (on view through March 4). Mimicking a film festival, this one-night-only event presents the work of Indigenous filmmakers–including writers, directors, actors, artists, musicians, and producers–making work today. All 11 films were made within the last ten years and represent voices from tribes around what is today called the United States and Canada. 

Videos by artists represented in the exhibition, as well as many others not yet seen at Bates, constitute a rich night of programming beyond the museum and in 3 locations around campus. The selection of films will play for the duration of the program. At Olin 104, make a stop to view Exploding Native Inevitable in the museum and pick up light refreshments. Then head to Commons Lounge and the new Immersive Media Studio in Coram Library. Pick up a brochure at any of these stations to guide you around campus, learn more about the films, and collect stickers at each location to enter to win a prize for seeing them all. The event is free and open to the public. Viewing all films in three locations takes about an hour and a half to watch. Several touch on adult themes and content that may not be suitable for all audiences.

While many films throughout the history of cinema have featured Native peoples and tribes, the writers, directors, and actors were not typically themselves Native, and their plots often underscored the false stereotype of extinct Indigenous peoples as part of a historic and romanticized past celebrating American colonization. In the twenty-first century, Indigenous makers are not only challenging these depictions, but actively representing their own cultures, pasts, and futures as powerful by turning the camera on themselves as creators, actors, and audience. 

Some films are narrative or documentary, and focus on subjects including current events, activism, historic preservation, and the environment. Others are more abstract or poetic, exploring imagery, words, and sounds, and layering moving images and music. They touch on a wide spectrum of topics, such as spirituality and myth, environmental connection, community celebration, grief, visual sovereignty, queer identities, and many more. While this program is by no means exhaustive, this evening will introduce audiences to the vibrant and developing practice of Indigenous filmmaking, as emerging and established artists in the medium assert their presence powerfully in the art world today.

Lead curator: Samantha Sigmon, Assistant Curator at Bates Museum of Art

Curatorial Interns: Lola Buczkowski, Julia Neumann

Featured Filmmakers: 

Heather Condo | Madeline Easley | Roberto Fatal; Snowflake Calvert; and XAV-SF | Charine Pilar Gonzales | Elisa Harkins | Sky Hopinka | Zacharias Kunuk | Marcella Kwe (Marcella Ernest) | Fox Maxy | Rhiana Yazzie | Steven J. Yazzie