Energy & Environment
Exhibition Rood Huid : the sight of your cities pains in the eyes
Anti American Protest / Against killing Indian /Wounded Knee
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KAZERNE DOSSIN 18/10/16 > 28/08/17
ROOD huid THE SIGHT OF YOUR CITIES PAINS THE EYES
A few centuries after the Vikings Christopher Columbus ‘discovers’ America. An estimated 10 million Indians live across the continent.
The arrival of the first missionaries in North America is the starting point for the mass conversion of Indians to Christianity.
European explorers push back the tribes in North America. European diseases and armed conflict claim tens of thousands of victims.
The US government launches a policy aimed at the forced ‘civilization’ of the Indians.
The American War of Independence. Indian tribes fight both in British and colonial armies to protect their territory and trade agreements.
The number of Indians has fallen to 300,000. Children are sent to white boarding schools where they are ‘civilised’.
Trail of Tears. Because of the Indian Removal Act complete Indian tribes are forced to relocate. Thousands of men, women and children die during the arduous journey.
White Americans move east to mine the recently discovered gold mines of California. The mining severely disrupts the Indian agriculture and hunting grounds.
Red Cloud, Chief of the Oglala Lakota, converts to Catholicism.
In Oklahoma the first Indian reservations are set up. The living conditions are appalling.
In a speech Chief Seattle denounces the land grabbing of the whites.
More than 300 Sioux are massacred at Wounded Knee.
The American Civil War. Indians fight on both sides, but after the war their voice again is suppressed.
10,000 Indians volunteer in the United States Armed Forces during World War I.
Indian Citizenship Act. All Indians are now considered US citizens.
44,000 Indians serve in the United States Armed Forces during World War II.
4 Het Concilie van Wounded Knee / The Council of Wounded Knee
In 1890 shaman Wovoka predicts that the ancient Indian culture can be restored through a ritual Ghost Dance. When the popularity of that spirit dance spreads, the government in- tervenes. During the disarming of an Indian encampment at Wounded Knee a gun is red. During the following re ght, 300 Sioux – men, women and children – die. In 1973, 200 mem- bers of the American Indian Movement occupy this symbolic town in an act of protest. Hun- dreds of people are arrested, two Native Americans are killed. The campaign lasts 71 days and receives a lot of international media coverage. The situation of the Native Americans comes to the forefront of the general public.
From 1830 onwards the US government, using the Indian Removal Act, increasingly ‘commandeers’ Indian territory to satisfy the land hunger of the settlers. The tribes are pushed back further and further. The arrival of the white man also has a great impact on Indian culture. In 1790 the government starts with the ‘whiti cation’ of the Native Americans. In 1851 the rst Indian reserva- tions are created. The forced displacement of entire tribes leads to horri c scenes and thousands of deaths.
3 De “goede” blanke man / The “good” white man
5 De laatste dag, als het heidens oog vol is / The last day, when the pagan eye is full
Native American symbolism
The Indian garb and hair attire varies from tribe to tribe, and changes substantially with the arrival of the whites. Before, the Plains Indians wore feathers in battle, now this headgear has primarily a ceremonial function. Also beads, used as jewellery and as a bargaining chip, differ greatly between the tribes. Respect for the animal and nature is central. For example, animal skins are not cut, but they retain their original shape. Native Americans use all parts of the animal – bones, claws, skin and esh.
6 Waarom worden niet alle Indianen vermoord met Yperiet? Why are not all Indians killed with Yperite?
10,000 Native Americans ght in the US Army during World War I, even though they are not considered citizens and therefore are not required to do military service. For them, the war is an opportunity to honour their warrior past. Yperite or mustard gas was rst widely used as a chemical weapon near Ypres, Belgium, in 1917. The equipment that the soldiers in the trenches had to protect them against gas attacks was inadequate. The gas destroyed the lungs, eyes and skin of the soldiers and took thousands of lives.
3 Het zien van uw steden doet pijn aan de ogen (gesprek tussen de Indiaan en de coyote)
The sight of your cities pains the eyes (conversation between the Indian and the coyote)
In 1854, Chief Seattle delivers a legendary speech towards against US President Franklin Pierce, who wishes ‘to buy’ the territory of the tribes. Chief Seattle explains that the land can- not be bought because it belongs to nature and not to man. The original speech was lost be- cause of translations and later revisions. In the 1980s a new version of the speech is distributed by environmentalists.
4 Handelingen XXVI, 24 “Ge raaskalt (*) Paulus ; uw grote geleerdheid maakt u waanzinnig” (*) Veel van wat Paulus zei was voor de Indiaan, de heiden, onbegrijpelijk. Acts XXVI, 24 “you raves (*) Paul; your great learning makes you mad “(*) Much of what Paul said was incomprehensible to the Indians,the gentiles
By the late 18th century the popularity of Catholi- cism in Europe is eroding. Many believers dream of an alternative kingdom of God. The ‘new’ continent across the ocean looms. More and more missionaries head to Indian territory to convert the tribes. They focus on establishing small communities under their supervision. These missionaries often try to protect the Indians against
the white settlers, but at the same time try to force the white way of life on their communities. Some tribes assimilate quickly, others remain de ant.
4 Dodenwake in een gewijde cirkel (na de terugkeer van de jacht) – Dead Wake in an addicted circle (after the return of the hunting)
A vigil is not a typical Indian ritual. The tribes copy this tradition from the white missionaries. Native Americans incorporate many elements from Catholicism in their own rituals. The Indian perception originally focused strongly on nature and the spirit realm. The circle is one of the most powerful symbols: the cycle of birth and rebirth, the cycle of the seasons …
3 Opgedragen aan Red Cloud / Dedicated to Red Cloud
Red Cloud, leader of the Oglala Lakota, is one of the most famous chiefs. All his life he opposes the expulsion of the tribes. In 1875 he visits Washington DC and rejects a bid by the government to purchase the holy grounds of the Sioux. He remains convinced of the need to nd a peaceful solution and therefore does not get involved in the following Lakota war between Indians and whites. In 1884, Red Cloud converts to Catholicism. At the time of his death in 1909, Red Cloud is known, both among Native Americans and whites, as a great diplomat.
The American Indian Movement (AIM) is founded in Minneapolis.
In his early days Camiel creates mostly reliefs, collages and small sculptures.
Voting Rights Act. Indians have the same voting rights as whites. The medical relief program is now commonly applied.
With De Russische roulette Camiel assembles his first environment.
Larger size works become part of Camiel’s oeuvre. He creates his first protest work Altar to fight the sham holiness.
Camiel experiments with alter- native materials. In Brussels he lands his first solo art exhibition. Dozens more follow in Belgium and abroad.
Why do not you kill all the Indians with Yperite, exhibited in Watou.
The sight of your cities pains the eyes (conversation between the Indian and the coyote of Dead Wake in an addicted circle (after the return of the hunting) and of The last day, when the pagan eye is full
AIM activists occupy the town of Wounded Knee as a protest against government treatment. The occupation receives worldwide attention.
Camiel creates Het concilie van Wounded Knee in response to the occupation of the town. The plight of the Indians becomes one of the recurring motifs in his oeuvre.
Creation of Red Cloud dedicated to Red Cloud
Creation of Acts XXVI, 24 “You raves (*), Paul, your great geleerd- of makes you mad ‘(*) Much of what Paul said was Indian, Gentile incomprehensible
Indian Child Welfare Act. Indian children are placed under the custody of their tribe and cannot simply be claimed by the government
Creation of Those who do not repent will perish.
Camiel’s focus shifts to ‘greetings to’ to honour known and lesser-known artists and others.
The US government reduces benefits for the poor by a third, but also allows the creation of casinos on the reservation, which attracts ma a attention.
The First World War becomes a central theme in the works of Camiel. He has an exhibition at the In Flanders Fields Museum.
1980 . 2010
5.2 million people in the US think of themselves as American Indian or Alaska Native.
Camiel Van Breedam turns 80. He exhibits in Kazerne Dossin with the exhibition ‘ROOD huid’.
When the last red man will have left this earth and his memory will be the shadow of a cloud above the prairie only the spirit of my forefathers will still be vivid on these shores and in these forests. Since they loved this earth like the newborn baby loves the heartbeat of his mother.
Copyright pictures:Kazerne Dossin: Klaartje De Boeck