Biopolitical Assimilation, 2019

Biopolitical Assimilation illustrates the process of Cultural genocide and is a tribute to the natives of America and their lost culture. Cultural genocide or cultural assimilation is when a dominant culture erases other minor cultures utilizing different oppressive means in order to create a homogeneous society. The idea of this piece comes from Capt. Richard H. Pratt’s speech titled “Kill the Indian and Save the Man”. His ideas expressed in his speech were central to “civilize” and “Americanize” the Indian. He treated them as a white piece of paper on which a wrong text was written. He wanted to erase the Barbarian/non-cultural text and write down a new American/cultural one. For this project, I created portraits of Native-Americans in their traditional clothing representing their culture using the Anthotype process*. The ephemerality of the image is an inherent feature of this plant-base alternative process. By using this alternative way of processing images, I am alluding to cultural assimilation of the indigenous people of the north America. Inspired by Bruno Latour’s ideas in We have never been modern, using emulsion out of plants is a way to refer to the dicotomy of Culture-Nature created by modernism. Culture as the realm of the political man, and Nature as, presumably, where people with no culture – Barbarians – live. * In Anthotype process an emulsion is made from crushed flower petals or any other light-sensitive plant, fruit or vegetable. A coated sheet of paper is then dried. By placing transparent photo positive on the paper and exposing to direct full sunlight, the image part which is not covered by the material bleaches out by the sun rays. The color remains in the shadowed parts. However, as the image is appeared by direct sunlight, it also becomes disappeared gradually as the images are exposed to light. What remains is a vague trace of the images on a piece of white paper.