Delphine Diaw Diallo

Taking pictures of Indians is a touchy business. From Edward S. Curtis on down, nobly posed ahistorical images have been the norm, and it's hard to redeem a century's worth of visual clichés. Beware the white man with a camera. But this wasn't a problem for French photographer Delphine Diaw Diallo, who's of Senegalese descent, when she traveled from Brooklyn to the Crow Indian Reservation in south central Montana. A total outsider, she even had a Japanese artist as her guide, as she explained earlier this month during a visit for her show's Seattle opening. Did her ethnicity and French accent help overcome suspicions among her subjects? "Yes," she says cheerfully, "it totally helped me!" During the Crow Fair, which includes a rodeo and pow-wow dancing, "Everyone knew I was there as a guest." Few of her subjects are posed, and her mostly black-and-white images depict a proud traditionalism. There's a certain theatrical element as the Crow annually convene, put on the old beaded costumes, and break the feathered headdresses out of their storage boxes. (Some also wear NBA-branded shorts and, for the dance contest, pin-on numbers with a Pepsi logo. The rodeo contestants dress like regular cowboys.) "I wanted to do something not anthropological," says Diallo. "We don't need such a miserablist culture. I like to show the experience—not just photojournalism." BRIAN MILLER

Thu., April 5, 5-8 p.m.; Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Starts: April 5. Continues through May 12, 2012

 
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