Tom Jones’s Encountering Cultures, a photographic series focused on historical reenactments of the French fur trade era (circa 1760–1840) called Rendezvous, opened on March 9th at the James Watrous Gallery in Madison. As a corollary to Jones’s own photographs, the Encountering Cultures exhibition includes a group of vintage images of white people “playing Indian” from his personal collection.
Jones is fascinated by the way re-enactors rely on historic photographs for guidance not only for clothing and material goods, but as a model for “authentic” Native American life. Rendezvous participants come from all over the country to these gatherings, setting up camp, displaying furs and other goods, and dressing the part of fur traders and Indians. Many of the reenactors adopt elements of Native American material culture and traditional life, from objects and clothing to ceremonies and lifeways. While these events are held throughout the U.S., Jones chose to concentrate on Rendezvous encampments within the original homeland of his own tribe, the Ho Chunk Nation: Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.
This video was recorded at the opening reception for the Tom Jones: Encountering Cultures exhibition on March 9, 2012, at the James Watrous Gallery in Overture Center for the Arts, Madison.