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In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Iroquois played a key role in the theater of colonial conflicts and thus helped to shape the history of North America. In European consciousness they live on as brave warriors, bold strategists, and skilled diplomats. Contrary to such romanticized notions, however, the descendants of the heroes immortalized by James Fenimore Cooper's “Leatherstocking Tales” have succeeded in creatively adapting to constantly changing circumstances. The tensions between traditional cultural values and the necessities of the modern world are also clearly expressed in contemporary art, which reflects present-day lifeworlds that have little in common with prevailing images of “the Indians”.

The Iroquois artists from the U.S.A. and Canada represented in this exhibition – Katsitsionni Fox, G. Peter Jemison, Richard Glazer Danay, Roger Parish, Alan J. Michelson, Kelly Greene, Jolene Rickard, Ryan Rice, Jeffrey M. Thomas, Peter B. Jones, Tom Huff, and Shelley Niro – work within a broad range of media which not only furnish proof of the vitality of artistic creativity, but also comment on political, social, and economic conditions and thus present unmistakable signals of cultural self-assertion.

“Lifeworlds – Artscapes” presents a selection of contemporary Iroquois paintings, graphic art, sculptures, photography, and installations which focus on the role of land and space for indigenous life and self-consciousness. From the life-giving earth providing the basis for the traditional cultivation of corn, beans, and squash (the “Three Sisters” of Iroquois mythology) to the meaning of land in the course of the colonial conquest, the repercussions of which are acutely felt until the present day, these works explore the multidimensional relationship between human beings and the land and its decisive influence on personal and collective identities.