As an Indigenous storyteller, I’m developing a new method of photography that transforms the so-called subject into a collaborator. Each participant enters a safe space in which they can see themselves, and engage with their own image. Instead of me playing the conventional role of photographer, I step back and embody the role of facilitator. Each individual uses a shutter-release and can view themselves in a monitor across from them. They make and choose their own image, and then write a legacy statement on the photograph about how they want future generations to remember them.
This reminds us all that we have ancestors behind us, and one day we’ll be ancestors too. For instance, when you look at historical images of Indigenous peoples, we never got to hear from the people in the image because their true voices were silenced. The connection with future generations was severed, and we are robbed of their stories. The Standing Strong Project aims to bring a just and dignifying lens to our people.
Featuring: Andrea Garcia (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara/Mexican), Tekpatl Kuauhtzin (Nahua/Cucapa), Joey Montoya (Lipan Apache Band Of Texas), Kelli Moody (Warm Springs/Yakama/Lummi/Musqueam), Cheyenne Phoenix (Diné/Northern Paiute), Paul Wilson (Klamath), Ernesto Yerena (Yaqui/Chicano), Isabella Zizi (Northern Cheyenne/Arikara/Muskogee Creek)
Curated by: Josué Rivas (Mexica/Otomi)
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Josué Rivas (Mexica and Otomi) is a creative director, visual storyteller, and educator, working at the intersection of art, journalism, and social justice. His work aims to challenge the mainstream narrative about Indigenous peoples, build awareness about issues affecting Native communities across Turtle Island, and be a visual messenger for those in the shadows of our society.
He is a 2020 CatchLight Leadership Fellow, Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow, founder of the Standing Strong Project, co-founder of Natives Photograph, and winner of the 2018 FotoEvidence Book Award with World Press Photo.
His work has appeared in National Geographic, The Guardian, The New York Times, Apple, and Nike N7, amongst others. He is available for photo assignments, film projects, and exhibitions.
Josué is based in Portland, Oregon.
The Standing Strong Project is an ongoing, multi-media, and community-based project that aims to uplift Indigenous peoples in reclaiming their narrative. Since the advent of photography, Indigenous peoples have been subjects of the Western lens. From the work of Edward S. Curtis, to the work of contemporary photographers, only one side of the story has been told. Today, we have the opportunity to reinvent the way we see ourselves.
EDUCATION DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
How did the photographer and the person in the photograph collaborate to make these images?
How is text used in these images? How does the text impact your understanding of the portrait?
Can an image be a vehicle for healing? How so?
How might you define the phrase “image sovereignty”?