Click here to watch a video made by de AVRO about Cuny Janssen and this exhibition
Following projects in South Africa (2005) and Japan (2007), Janssen worked in and around Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 2008, a small town in the heart of the United States inhabited by members of the Turtle clan, a sub-clan of the matriarchal Delaware Indian tribe. The immediate motivating factor for Janssen going to work there was her curiosity about what could be seen of the children's Indian ancestry in these modern, young Native Americans. What is the relationship of the careworn and emotionally charged history of Native Americans with the social environment of the youngest generation? Can anything still be seen of their own culture? Along with this comes the fact that the image of the North American Indian has changed drastically over the last century. In the past, with few exceptions, the Indian was depicted as a blood-thirsty redskin prone to suddenly attacking remote forts or caravans of unwitting white pioneers. This image, maintained by numerous books and films, has changed radically, giving way to an image that may have become just as romanticised: that of the 'noble savage' who has become a victim of white colonialism. From this viewpoint, it is precisely these Native Americans who are closely linked to their own land and have a fundamental, physical as well as spiritual relationship with nature, the earth and the elements.