Photography has not left a kind record of its contact with Aboriginal people. The lens ”” and the non-Aboriginal artists behind it ”” most often conveyed foreign notions of Aboriginal identity ”” the warrior, the stoic savage, the victim.
The photographs on the following pages break that grip. They are taken by Aboriginal artists who have turned the cameras inward to produce images of startling originality. They range from the postgender cyborgs of KC Adams, whose digitally altered photos mock the 19th and early 20th century poses, to the Richard Avedon-style portraits of Aboriginal artists by Rosalie Favell, whose work graces the covers and accompanies the articles on the following pages.
Work by these photographers makes up part of the National Gallery of Canada touring exhibition called ”œSteeling the Gaze,” curated by Steven Loft. As Loft noted in a recent essay, ”œas long as the camera was in the hand of the colonizer, the ethnographer, the anthropologist or even the most well-meaning artist, something WAS lost when the picture was snapped.” By contrast, he says, these portraits present a new look at Aboriginal identity, ”œtaking back the image, the portrayal and the perception.”