Floor 3, Susan and John Hess Family Gallery and Theater
Drawing on his decades-long association with Jimmie Durham as well as his recent curatorial projects at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Paul Chaat Smith explores the contradiction at the heart of the American national project. He argues that even though the vast majority of the people of the United States have little contact with Indians, they know their lives are shaped by a fundamental truth: the country’s existence is inextricably tied to the dispossession of the original inhabitants. The ubiquitous place names and imagery that surround Americans throughout their lives are constant and powerful reminders, and a kind of meditation on that unresolved past that continues to shape our present.
Paul Chaat Smith is a Comanche author, essayist, and curator. He joined the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2001, where he serves as associate curator. His exhibitions include James Luna’s Emendatio, Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian, and Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort. Smith is the author (with Robert Warrior) of Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee. His second book, Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong, was published in 2009 by the University of Minnesota Press. Although he spends most of his time crafting game-changing exhibitions and texts, he also enjoys reading obsessively about the early days of the Soviet space program, watching massive amounts of televised sports, and writing about himself in the third person.
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