Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation

Oct 25, 2019–Jan 12, 2020

Alan Michelson (b. 1953) has critically and poetically foregrounded Indigenous models of political, social, and environmental relationships for more than thirty years. A New York-based Mohawk member of Six Nations of the Grand River, Michelson draws upon historical memory and Indigenous philosophy to reveal and challenge disturbing colonial legacies. His methodically researched, site-based multimedia works uncover suppressed histories to envision more equitable relationships.

This exhibition, centered around Wolf Nation (2018), presents four works in video, sound, print, and augmented reality that investigate the layered histories of place through forms distilled from diverse sources such as wampum belts, moving panoramas, Indigenous horticulture, colonial maps, state historic markers, and scenic wallpaper. Each moving-image work is horizontal or circular in form, echoing Indigenous concepts of time and space: multi-perspectival and cyclical rather than singular and linear. By creating works that affirm Indigenous relationality and also survivance—a state of active presence and resistance—Michelson allows us to see the potent, parallel worldviews of Native cultures.

This exhibition includes two augmented reality works—one on Floor 5 and the other in the lobby.

Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation is organized by Chrissie Iles, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator, with Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant.

Support for Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation is provided by The Rosenkranz Foundation.


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A purple-tinted, pixellated image of two wolves

Alan Michelson: Site Readings

By Clémence White, senior curatorial assistant

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Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

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In the News

"[A]ugmented reality’s ability to show two realities at once can be a powerful storytelling approach, as demonstrated by the New York-based artist Alan Michelson’s show “Wolf Nation”" —The New York Times

"Through multi-sensorial installations, Alan Michelson holds genocidal colonizers accountable and affirms the continued survival of Indigenous people." Hyperallergic

"Michelson’s new pieces are AR works at their best—they reveal the unpleasant realities of our own world that are often kept out of sight from many people." —ARTnews

"Alan Michelson’s multimedia works tinker at the reuleaux triangle where technology, tradition, and memory meet." —Bomb

“The planet is experiencing biological death on an accelerating scale, and Alan Michelson knows the power and magic that the threat of annihilation breeds.” —The Observer

"Wolf Nation is both an evocative affirmation of solidarity across species and a stark appeal to the forces responsible for their persecution." —

"Alan Michelson: Wolf Nation is a compact yet impactful exhibition that encapsulates Alan Michelson’s (Mohawk) experimental, artistic practice." —First American Art Magazine