Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tonight at Observatory: "Tall Tales of the Totem Pole: The Intercultural Biography of an Icon" with Aaron Glass

"Tall Tales of the Totem Pole: The Intercultural Biography of an Icon" with Aaron Glass tonight at Observatory! Hope to see you there.
Tall Tales of the Totem Pole: The Intercultural Biography of an Icon
An illustrated talk by anthropologist Aaron Glass

Date: TONIGHT! Sunday, October 24

Time: 8:00 PM

Admission: $5
Books will be available for sale and signing

To mark the release of The Totem Pole: An Intercultural History, co-author Aaron Glass will discuss how carved heraldic monuments from the Northwest Coast have become central symbols for the Native American at large. Dispelling many common myths, he reconstructs the intercultural history of the art form from the late 1700s—when Europeans first arrived on the coast—to the present, and describes how two centuries of colonial encounter transformed these indigenous carvings into a category of popular imagination and souvenir kitsch. Glass presents theories on the origin of the totem pole; its spread from the Northwest Coast to World’s Fairs and global theme parks; the history of tourism and its appropriation as a signifier of place; the role of governments, museums, and anthropologists in collecting and restoring poles; and the part that these carvings have continuously played in Native struggles for sovereignty over their cultures and lands. From the (many) world’s tallest totem pole(s) to the smallest, from depictions of whites on poles to the use of poles in advertising, this talk will explore the multifarious histories of these iconic forms.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Aaron Glass is an anthropologist and artist who works with indigenous people in British Columbia and Alaska. His past research, along with a companion film “In Search of the Hamat’sa” examined the ethnographic representation and performance history of the Kwakwaka’wakw “Cannibal Dance.” He has published widely on various aspects of First Nations art, media, and performance on the Northwest Coast, and was recently involved in the restoration of Edward Curtis’s 1914 silent film, “In the Land of the Headhunters.” Glass is currently an Assistant Professor at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, where he is curating the exhibit “Objects of Exchange,” opening in January 2011.
To find out more, click here. You can read more about "The Material Transformation of a Cultural Icon" on Aaron Glass' blog Material World by clicking here. You can get directions to Observatory--which is next door to the Morbid Anatomy Library (more on that here)--by clicking here. You can find out more about Observatory here, join our mailing list by clicking here, and join us on Facebook by clicking here.

Image: Model pole by Charlie James, now in the UBC Museum of Anthropology, via Material World.

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