Title: Bury My Heart
Location: Material Culture, Paris Gibson Square Museum
Great Falls, Montana
In 1890, 300 Oglala Sioux—most of them women and children—were massacred by the US Army at Wounded Knee, Montana. Their bodies were left as they lay—without respect and exposed to the elements. Belmore's commemorative performance of this event begins as she sits on a chair in a muddy field before a large circle of flowers. She gets up, enters the circle, and starts to dig a hole in the mud with her hands. Dipping the flower heads in the blood-red mixture of water and earth that gathers at the bottom of the hole, she lays them back in the circle before washing her hands and feet in a nearby stream. She then brings the chair—the seat of civilization—to the edge of the hole and smears it with the mud. She is careful to cover every inch of the chair with the stain of violent history. When the task is done, Belmore widens and deepens the hole with a long-handled shovel, places the chair in it, and buries it with the mud she had earlier dug away. The burial of the chair is as studied, concentrated, and laborious as the burial of Native culture is beneath the mud of colonial revisionist history.
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