Gallow Used to Execute Dakota 38 Inspiration for Minnesota “Art” Causes Ire

So-called piece of art opens wounds of American Indians

Published May 26, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS – The Walker Art Center, based in Minneapolis, is causing ire of the American Indian community over its inclusion of a new “art” structure based on gallows used to execute the Dakota 38.

The sculpture called “Scaffold” was inspired in part by the one used in Mankato, Minnesota where the largest mass execution in American history was carried out by order of President Abraham Lincoln. Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant created the sculpture.

On Friday, the Walker Art Center’s director released a lengthy statement that said in part:

As director of the Walker, I regret that I did not better anticipate how the work would be received in Minnesota, especially by Native audiences. I should have engaged leaders in the Dakota and broader Native communities in advance of the work’s siting, and I apologize for any pain and disappointment that the sculpture might elicit. When I first encountered Scaffold in a sculpture park in Europe five years ago, I saw a potent artistic statement about the ethics of capital punishment. Most importantly, I recognized its capacity to address the buried histories of violence in this country, in particular raising needed awareness among white audiences. I knew this could be a difficult artwork on many levels. This is invariably connected to national issues still embedded in the psyche of this country and its violent, colonialist past.

“Scaffold” will debut at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden June 3.

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  1. Barbara Miller 2 years ago
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