Shelley Niro

The Shirt

2003
Category: 
In "The Shirt" - a video that debuted at the 2003 Venice Biennale - Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) artist and director Shelley Niro parodies the archetypal tourist tee-shirt from the point of view of First Nations Peoples as an exploration into the lasting effects of European colonialism in North America. Facing the camera directly and poised against the landscape of “America”, an Aboriginal woman with biker-like accessories bears a sequential series of statements on her tee-shirt that together comprise a discourse on colonialism. The darkly ironic and yet brutally truthful messages of "The Shirt" draw attention to the history of invasion that indigenous peoples have experienced in North America. By presenting the tee-shirts as souvenirs and memories of these impositions, Niro’s work suggests that the consequences of colonialism are still active today. The Shirt is an ironic and humorous take on colonialism enacted through text on T-shirts worn by an Aboriginal woman (artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie). Directly facing the camera with the landscape of “America” as a backdrop, the woman poses in shirts that bear a sequential series of statements that together comprise a discourse on North America’s troubled past.
Artist
Title
The Shirt
Date
2003
Medium
Time-Based Media
Materials
digital video, 5:55 minutes
Nationality
Canadian
Credit line
Purchased 2007
Accession number
41982