He also advances the point that originally native artifact, which developed later into art produce is the currency for an’irreducible triad’, consisitng of – the art market, the art collector and art scholarship. Despite pursuing separate interests and values they cooperated as an interdependent mechanism that were in competition for the control of both the processes and produce of native aesthetic culture, culminating in a fluctuation of power between collector and trader. The former seeking to preserve traditional practices and the latter seeking to commercialize them.
The rivalry between these two factions evolved into a more common and mutual acceptance of interests; traders and dealers realized the lucrative and marketable potential of cultural ‘authenticity’ and collectors developed an interest for native creativity in more universalistic aesthetic terms. The ‘give and take’ nature of their power and control struggle has been seen to transgress through three distinguished periods of time dating from the late nineteenth century, a point in time catalyzed by the introduction of the railroad, clearly as a means of facilitating the movement of both person and object.
In less than a decade, rural New Mexican inhabitants had their self-sufficiency stripped from them, and were consequently propelled into the cut-throat economy of an industrialising nation. The arrival of the railroad quite simply influenced an unprecedneted effect on the promtion and transformation of Indian art. The railroad also sreved as a tourist agency, choreographing Indian rituals to inflate publicity as well as encouraging docile and profitable natives to tailor their crafts to satisfy a White refinement. Commenting first hand, J. G.
Bourke observed at Rito Railroad New Mexico that: 4The sugar bowls and salt cellars were bric-a-brac that would have set Eastern collectors crazy with envy; they were ornamental ware, made by the pueblos of Laguna, six miles distant. A dozen or more of the Indians were hanging around the door, waiting to sell their wares to the passengers. During this early stage, it was clear that the demand for Southwest Indian arts and crafts had overwhelmed the supply. Museum-sponsored collecting expeditions were directed to purchase representative tribal study collections.
It was this juncture that realised the interdependence between dealer and scholar. A man named Thomas V. Keam was perhaps the most preeminent and prolific of Southwest dealers, boasting a collection of hundreds of excaveted Hopi pots. However, intensified competition between museum anthroplogists and tourists for his relatively limited supply of native artifacts became a causal factor for an increase of mass production and the encouragement of incorporating prehistoric designs and shapes into their modern ceramics.
This development instigated a key and integral issue, on the gounds that these mass produced ceramics would serve to degrade the authenticity of the prehistoric wares, and consequently render the ancient craft traditions and practices obsolete. What was so called the ‘ceramic revival’, ultimately proved not to be the sanctioned experiment that was intended, but in fact a considerable commercial venture (which admittedly was of economic value to Whites and natives alike) fuelled by vast popularity culminating in the speculation of validity and more broadly the desimation of part of a material culture.
This stage has been distinguished as the Incipient Market (1875-1915), which saw the forging of an economic bond between Indian traders and scholars, with these academics reliant on dealers in order to proliferate their study collections. Then followed by the Art Revivalist Movement (1920-1970), characterized by powerful art patrons and their preservationist associations, who by manipulating the imagery of Native American art for philanthropic purposes drove a decisive wedge between art dealers and scholars.
The current phase, known as the Expansive Period (1968-), has given rise to the reorientation of both market and scholar towards a more fine arts bearing. The Art Revivalist movement that emerged in the twenties, spawned several philanthropic organistaions who sought to rehabilitate traditional values of Native American art that had since been redesigned by commercial traders. Their principle was that the Native Indian could revel in a feeling of pride for the indigenous craftmanship of his culture, freed from the restraints of such commercial intervention.
These organistaions set about establishing Indian craft shows, based on the idea of forming a communiy environment. Many tribes would cooperatively gather at traditional trading posts and bartar for various commodities. However, a commercial element was still employed as traders realised they could encourage craftsmen to engage competetively in exchange for small prizes and rewards. The prefered workmanship, most often blanket weaving would be publically displayed outside the trading post thus ensuring a premium of quality and quantity.
Consequently buyers and traders would gather at their own fairs where they could boast their latest acquisitions of ceramics and textiles amongst other choice art objects and relics. Once the twenties were under way and Indian fairs were epanding in size and regularity, it became evident that each year the events tended to be more about the natives and less for them. Reflecting the philanthropic principal of portraying the unique specialised qualities of the Indian culture so as to impress upon the Western civilisation that this was a heritage that justified preservation.
Therefore this was seen as legitimising the excessive displays of Native American traditions. What was still inseparable throughout this phase was the conflict of interests between humanists and traders, as the latter had no interest in such traditional values, especially compared to the possibility of monetary gain. They still encouraged the sacrifice of traditional techniques in favour of faster mass producable means. When commenting on the state of pueblo jewellery Frederic Douglas remarks that:
Pieces of old rubber phonograph records are replacing the old black jet or lignite. Coral imported from Italy has supplanted almost altogether the reddish-pink stone seen in the prehistoric inlay. Within the last five years large quantities of Chinese turquoise have been imported and sold to the Indians, who make it into ornaments or sell it in crude lumps. A synthetic turquoise, or an enamel resembling the stone in appearance, is rapidly taking the place of the real article. It is an importation from Europe.
Attempts have been made by unscrupulous traders to sell imitation shell beads made at American button factories. Despite such remarks the philanthropic voice was ultimately a lost cause, its efforts and ideals gradually became subsumed by commercial and economic domination. Cheaper imitations were more efficiently produced at a less expense, the lucrative and profitable trade drew the most talented native artists away from the humanists to such a degree that despite their best intentions the philanthropist was forced to concede that money was the essence. To quote Edwin L. Wade: …….
Trying to insure the purity of traditional native art, the humanists were caught up in the greater force of the art market of which they were never more than a single component. Assessing the very notion of the term ‘revival’, and indeed accounting for how it’s placed or misplaced in a more contemporary era or in what Wade has distinguished as the ‘expansive period’, would be more appropriately discussed when seeking to draw up a conclusion. Beforehand, however, as mentioned in my aims it is of equal necesity to examine how products of ethnic Indian crafts have infiltrated and encapsulated subcultural theory.
Native Influence On Counter Culture And Subcultural Apprppriation The arrival of the mid-twentieth century saw a different turn of events which led to the emergence of a youthful counterculture in America which found itself very much embodying the reflection of the American Indians, particularly those of a traditional and actively political standing. The ideal of this counterculture sought to lay down the foundations for an egalitarian coexistence catalysed by America’s growing urban-industrial success.
An inadvertent cultural deviation triggered by the seminal effects of World War 2 and its subsequent ‘baby boom’ period which propelled the U. S into a seemingly utopian age of new wealth, power, leisure, and inextricably; guilt. The 1960s spawned an age that was to constitute an unusually large and vociferous youth population, who revelled in this affluence and leisure, exuding new levels of political and cultural confidence in response to the revolutionary advancement and expansion of media access.
Thus, facilitating a heightened sense of awareness for political and cultural change. The sixties again brought with it a sizable and controversial war, culminating in a state of alienation and fear of a world wide political crisis, the knock on effect incurred a radical fascination with notions of spiritual revival and invention, in turn sealing a departure from any faith in high technology and austere intellectuality. Membership traits included;
6’colourful or ragged garments, long hair on males, sexual promiscuity, use of drugs for pleasure and insight, esoteric and eclectic religious politics, earnest commitment to group process and honesty, and language that evolved rapidly to stay ahead of usurpation by the movement’s vast and fascinated audience’. American Indians epitomised the very essence and ethos of what this young white movement was searching for. 7’Ecologically aware, spiritual, tribal, anarchistic, drug-using, exotic, native, and wronged, the lone genuine holdouts against American conformity and success’.
This newly formed cult integration formed the basis of what would later evolve and proliferate into a situation that David Howes has since described as the, decommodification of ‘Indianness’, whereby Indian practices have eventually come to be appropriated and misrepresented. The new counterculture embraced the old with such vigour, enthusiasm and emulation that the young white Americans were effectively telling the Indians how to be Indian.
A pivotal movement came in 1967 when at an event called 8’The San Francisco Human Be-In’ or subtitled as the, ‘Gathering of Tribes’, huge groups congregated calling themselves, “hippies”, “freaks” and “longhairs”; many of whom adopted traditional native Indian pseudonyms. The Indians reception to this immense influx of White interest was initially ambivalent and superficial but as the sixties got under way the two groups reconciled a mutual political cause.
With the development of pan-Indian national organisations such as the National Indian Youth Council and the American Indian Movement, a new energy of youthful pride became manifest within the Indian spirit. White sympathisers wanted to aid Indians in political causes, reciprocation for ritualistic and religious teachings offered to them by the wise elders of most often Hopi and Navajo tribes. Soon the fusion of political interests evolved into a cultural exchange and hybridisation of the arts and humanities.
Ultimately the American Indians provided the counterculture with a living identity base in return for this culture to provide them with a revival of respect and support for traditional Indian ways amongst the Indian youth, procuring a mutual dissipation of dominant white ideologies. However, in spite of this unity a paradox has evolved according to David Howes. He argues that a consequent effect has been the huge saleability and commodification of native American culture.
The expropriation of their heritage has resulted in a state of; 8’popularisation and corruption of native traditions and imagery through their unauthorised reproduction and commercial exploitation by non-Indians’. His argument contests that the appropriation and proliferation of Native American culture within counterculture groups serves as much to denigrate the integrity of Indian traditions and beliefs as the oppressive persecution they so long endured during the nineteenth century.
A quote from Sharyn Udall’s, The Irresistible Other offers a rationale behind the cult absorption of all things Indian, which, in my mind also forms the basis for subcultural appropriation by groups such as hippies and travellers who became very resurgent later on in the eighties. 10’The ‘discovery’ of the Snake Dance coincided perfectly with an accelerating American search for national identity. Hungry for a cultural past distinct from that of Europe, Americans had begun to look among the indigenous peoples of their own continent.
Onto ancient American roots, Euro-Americans began to graft their aspirations for a noble past’. Also in support, Howes quotes; 11’The Hopi are typically held up as icons of spiritual wisdom, exemplars in a quest toward new meaning in the malaise of modern life’. In this country the eighties was an era that witnessed the development of high unemployment and high expectations, such events resulted in mass protests, dwelling in squats and for many the ‘road’ was the alternative whereby living in converted buses, trucks and old caravans became common place.
For these people individuality, anarchy and non-conformity became the integral essence of their being. Despite them still representing a large and forceful contingent today their style of the unconventional, cheap and hard wearing has since become subsumed by contemporary mainstream fashion and, by the nineties had become very much interchangeable with subcultural styles; thus making these Travellers harder to distinguish.
Many theories and studies have been invested in the understanding of what Levi-Strauss terms as the bricolage of subculture; a term which looks at how a group responds to an environment by carefully ordering, classifying and arranging into structures elements of the physical world so as to gain insight into the natural world. Paul Willis develops this argument by applying the idea of a 13homologous style, to assess and consider the symbolic fit between the values and life-styles of a group, and how it appropriates forms to express or reinforce its focal concerns.
He demonstrates that in spite of its highly publicised stigma of being lawless and decadent, the internal structure of any particular subculture is 14’organically related to other parts and it is through the fit between them that the subcultural member makes sense of the world’. It’s Willis’s consensus then that the hippy culture cohered as a ‘whole way of life’ to a complete alternative value system.
When the question was posed, 15’what specifically does a subcultural style signify to the members of the subculture themselves?’, the answer was that appropriated objects reassembled in the distinctive subcultural ensembles and were, ‘made to reflect, express and resonate…. aspects of group life’. In their adapted forms, these objects were perceived to be homologous as regards to focal concerns, group structure, and collective self-image. They were ‘objects in which the subcultural members could see their central values held and reflected’.
In 1994, Amy de La Haye and Cathie Dingwall launched an exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum on subcultural style. They acquired a unique collection of authentic subcultural clothes worn from the 1940s to the 1990s which proved to be of great support to academic and sociological studies surrounding subcultures, as its focus was upon clothing worn by individuals to signify their allegiance to a particular subculture. According to De La Haye, it concentrates upon 16’real clothes’ worn by ‘real people’.
A lecture written by Caroline Evans, in conjunction with the V&A exhibition seeks to articulate and support the issue of how garments and dress relate to such profound notions of resistance, identification, consumerism, style, politics, pleasure, authenticity and alienation. Much of her argument derives from the theories of Dick Hebdige and The Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies. Their fundamental consensus is that of a class-based analysis, whereby subculture theory is a form of working class resistance to the parent and dominant culture.
Culminating in a: 17’style that is not just constituted in what is worn but, rather, by the way in which commodities are organised to express ‘being in the world’. This may mean subverting and transforming their meanings and uses’. So, for example where Punks adorn such motifs as the swastika, this shouldn’t be taken to mean their adherence to fascism; Hebdige considers this to mean a ‘transgression’ from an existing order or a symbol for ‘being hated’ or ‘being an outsider’.
In the same way I take this idea of bricolage when applied to hippie/ traveller styles and my case study to represent a subculture that purports ideologies of an ecologically, spiritually and a harmoniously minded coexistence that finds solace in anti-conformist and anti-‘civilised’ practice, when considering the significance and symbolism encoded with in American Indian motifs. As the meanings attached to these signs that are part of a set of signs are re-ordered and re-contextualised, juxtaposing individual signs with new meanings.
Do you think your style of dress retains the impact it did in the past? 18Sophie Xi-Zeta: Yeah I think so. You get looked at in the street, I don’t notice, I get told this, I don’t notice cos I’m chronically short sighted, but you get looked at in the street and that may be my intention when I was younger cos I did, I will admit to going up to King’s Road and posing and charging tourists i?? 1 for a photo etc. etc. but now, I’m so comfortable with it, I would feel uncomfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.
I suppose there’s, there’s an element of vanity in it- but then that’s kind of natural, it’s kind of, tribes people do it, you’re doing it to send out signals to people, “You’re like me, be attracted to me”, not necessarily in a sexual way, but just for making friends, maybe gathering a kind of a tribe round you, you’re sort of sending out a signal saying “I look this way because I like these things, I have these beliefs. Hey come and join me! “.
It’s just that attraction thing and you know it’s good, it’s good if you can go out and share your love of music or your beliefs or whatever. 1 David Howes- Cross Cultural Consumption, Commodities and Cultural Borders p2 2 Hammond ; Rey 1953- Taken from the New Mexico Archeological Society- Oriental Rug Review- http:// www. rugreview. com/84. htm 3 The Ethnic Art Market In The American Southwest 1880-1980, Edwin L Wade 4 The Ethnic Art Market In The American Southwest 1880-1980, Edwin L Wade: J G Bourke.
6 Indians and the Counterculture, 1960s-1970s- Stewart Brand- History of Indian- White Relations- Wilcomb E. Washburn, volume editor. 7 ibid. 8 Indians and Counterculture, 1960s-1970s- Stewart Brand- History of Indian-White Relations Wilcomb E. Washburn, Volume Editor. 9 Cultural Appropriation and Resistance in the American SouthWest- ‘Decommodifying ‘Indianness’. Cross Cultural Consumption- David Howes. 10 ibid. 11 Cultural Appropriation and Resistance in the American SouthWest- ‘Decommodifying ‘Indianness’.
Cross Cultural Consumption- David Howes 13 Homologous…. correspondence, sameness of relation. 14 Profane Culture- Paul Willis Routledge ; Keegan Paul 1978 15 The Subculture Reader- Gelder,K ; Thornton,S; Dick Hebdige Subculture: the Meaning of Style 1997. 16 Surfers Soulies Skinheads ; Skaters- De La Haye,A ; Dingwall,C- V;A Museum 1996 17 Street Style, Subculture and Subversion- Costume- The Journal of the Costume Society. Caroline Evans 1997 18 Quote from interview with Sophie Xi-Zeta, Brighton Museum.