News from Recovering Voices
COLING at the Smithsonian
By: Marta Ostajewska, University of Warsaw, Poland
From April 25 to September 27, 2019, Marta Ostajewska took a part in Coling grant at the Smithsonian. As an artist and researcher her work deals with horizontal relations in site-specific activities. In 2018 Marta defended her PhD in Arts from at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw and currently working on my second doctorate (The Recovery of Agency – Indigenous Modern Art and horizontal decolonization strategies in the context of methodology Performance as Research) at the University of Warsaw.
During her stay in D.C., Washington, Marta took part in numerous meetings and presentations related to the promotion and presentation of contemporary indigenous culture:
• Presentation of the movie Navajo Math Circle and meeting with the director of the film at the National Museum of the American Indian
• Meeting with Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho), author of There There, hosted by Washington Post literary critic Ron Charles
• Lectures in the series “Archival Connections: Research in the National Anthropological Archives”: Margaret M. Bruchac, Love Letters from Nevada: Entanglements of Archaeological Research and Indigenous Kinship in the Early 20th Century, Molly Kamph, Connecting Archives and Artifacts: Collaborative Collections Management through The Ralph S. and Rose L. Solecki Papers and Artifacts Project, Judith Gray, Archival Connections: What happens when ethnographic recordings and related documentation are found in multiple repositories?, Candace Greene: PLAINS INDIAN DRAWINGS: VISUAL HISTORY AND RIGHTS OF REPRESENTATION, Dougas Herman, Indigenous Geography: Documenting place-based cultural heritage for internet dissemination
• Performance at the National Portrait Gallery IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture—Jeffrey Gibson: To Name An Other
• Exhibition The Warmth of Other Suns. Stories of Global Displacement, Phillips Collection, American First Museum of Modern Art
• Presentation of Wendy Red Star, a native visual artist, at the Smithsonian Institution
• Exhibition T. C. Cannon – At the Edge of America in the National Museum of the American Indian, NYC
Marta conducted research in archives and collections of Indigenous Art, analyzed the indigenous masks and source materials of the Objects Collections, National Anthropological Archives, Human Studies, Film Archives Collections and the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center at the Smithsonian Institution Museum Support Center.
In addition, she completed research at the University of Maryland Library, the Library of the Natural History Museum, and the Library of Congress.
During her time at the Smithsonian, Marta made contacts with researchers and artists related to indigenous art, including with Dr. Gwyn Isaac, Ph.D., Oxford University, Curator of North American Indigenous Culture; Dr. Emilienne Ireland, doctoral studies in Social Anthropology at Yale University, a scholar who works with the Waura as a project leader for the Return of the Captured Spirits project; Dr. Phil Tajitsu Nash, Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Maryland, teaches Asian Pacific American history, art, and public policy courses; Amalia Córdova, co-director of the Mother Tongue Film Festival, a project of the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices initiative, and is currently the Center’s Chair of Cultural Research and Education; Melissa Bisagni, the Film and Video Center Program Manager at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. Is the Director of Programming at the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival; Paul Chaat Smith, a Comanche author and an associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian., who writes and lectures frequently on American Indian art and politics; Greta de León, Executive Director of the Americas Research Network, she served as curator of Latin American art exhibits in Mexico, the United States, and Europe; organizer or coordinator of numerous music, dance, and theater festivals; prof. Cynthia Radding, Gussenhoven Distinguished Professor of Latin American Studies; Professor of History, interests in Latin American colonial history focus on the intersections between environmental and ethnographic history; Jim Deutsch, curator at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage; dr Philipa Rappoport, Manager of Community Engagement at Smithsonian, Ph.D. in Slavic folklore and linguistics from the University of Virginia, with a specialty in folktales and ritual; Melissa Ho, curator of 20th century art, SAAM.
During her stay at the Smithsonian, Marta also had the opportunity to work with the Comanche group at the Museum Support Center, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as part of a project that aims to support indigenous communities in their efforts to save, document and revitalize indigenous languages, cultures and systems knowledge. The Comanche indigenous research group that had qualified for the project traveled to the Smithsonian to study specific objects, specimens and archives related to their heritage, and to engage in dialogue with the Smithsonian archives to recover and revitalize the indigenous language and knowledge of their own culture and art.
Marta also presented her paper: The cultural revitalization of the post-industrial district of Księży Młyn in Łódź (Poland) – the site-specific actions as a part of the" Filling "project" at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Washington, DC.
Her stay at the Smithsonian was an important research and life experience. Marta met fantastic researchers and developed a lot of close relationships. Based on the collected materials, she also wrote two chapters of her doctoral dissertation. One of the chapters There is no there there—Urban Indians and The New Contemporary in Indigenous American Art—around Identity and Authenticity in American Pop Culture, was published in 2020 in the scored magazine "Literaturoznawstwo" (DOI: 10.25312 / 2451-1595). Marta also made a video performance inside (2020) in several indigenous languages, (Sakha, Buryat, Mixtec, Wymysiöeryś and Mayan), based on experiences of meetings with other researchers during the Coling project.