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SauvageEnlarge image

Sauvage, 1988

Carl Beam
Canadian, 1943 - 2005
mixed media on acrylic panel with painted wood and found object (rifle)
308 x 190.9 x 15 cm with integral frame
Purchased 2008
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42447)
Photo © NGC, ©CARCC

The upper image is a photograph of the cemetery near the Garnier residential school in Spanish, Ontario, which Beam attended as a child. The photo below shows the devastated city of Hiroshima flanked by a double portrait of Christopher Columbus at left, and an Apache gan dancer, a small portrait of Plains Cree Chief Big Bear, and bees at right. The painted rifle below is encased as if in a museum box. Beam's handwritten text refers to the "salvage paradigm," an early 20th-century anthropological term that describes the belief that it is necessary to preserve "weaker" cultures from destruction by the dominant culture. Beam asks "What is 'Sauvage'?" "Who is the savage?" and "What should or can be salvaged?"

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