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Preliminary communication

The Purpose of Art: Intelligent Dialogue or Mere Decoration?

Jeannine Belgodere ; English Department, Université du Havre, France

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This article includes a presentation of the Chiricahua Apache sculptors Allan Houser and his son Bob Haozous, as well as a synthesis of two interviews I conducted with Bob Haozous in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in July 2013 and 2014. In this interview, upon which I will comment when I feel necessary, Bob Haozous voices his opinion of his father’s artwork, which, to his mind, conveys a romanticized view of Native Americans. According to him, Allan Houser’s portrayal of dignified and beautiful Indians cannot be divorced from a specific economic and political context. He also critiques the Indian Market as being the portrait of a romanticized history. Indeed, art that reflects the real plight of Natives is missing from the works exhibited at Indian markets, especially the one that is held in August in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For Bob Haozous, Native artists should use art as both an internal dialogue and as a political statement. His particular view of Indian identity as a philosophy, and not as a genetically-determined identity, is also groundbreaking, as is his artistic critique of Indians who have become ‘cultural zombies.’


Allan Houser, Bob Haozous, the Apaches, Indian Market, Apache holocaust, political statement

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