Abstract: This paper contends that, since the 2000s, contemporary Aboriginal artists have redefined their identities from subjects to agents and used the space of the museum to reclaim their Indigeneity. One step in this process was taken when museums, thanks to new curatorial practices, became one the main ‘sites of passage’ from subjectivity to agency. This redefinition of the role of museums, considered originally as colonial institutions, in combination with the integration of contemporary art pieces into ethnographic exhibits, led to a redefinition of authenticity as well. In this case, authenticity has shifted from what was at first described and considered as “native”—following exoticized, “Occidental” representations of Indigenous populations—to a notion based on empowerment and performance. Using Michael Cook’s work as an example, this article focuses on the process of developing intersubjectivity thanks to new practices based on a redefinition of space, whereby the subject in the museum becomes globalized, recontextualized and repositioned on a global scale. In the museum the subject does not exist per se, but rather evolves in a world of relations, linking for example the artists to the audience. The museum, as it becomes the place where intersubjectivity reigns, best embodies this evolution.
Keywords: museums; contemporary Indigenous art; ethnographic exhibitions; intersubjectivity; authenticity; performance