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Tanis Maria S’eiltin tackles Sigmund Freud head-on in this piece, which references Freud’s essay of the nearly same name. A postcard-plastered plastic suitcase fitted with flashing neon lights and high heels with abalone fasteners casts a glaring light on one of Freud’s psychoanalytic notions, which pitted the supposed intellectual inferiority of “savages” against their superior sexual morality.

“Freud’s work was considered controversial and continues to be denounced in the field of psychology and anthropology,” S’eiltin says. “His hypotheses correlate with attitudes that continue to be prevalent in popular culture today—where, globally, Native American and Alaska Native women are still hypersexualized by popular media.”

“Totem & Tabu” is on view at the Museum of Northwest Art from July 7 to Sept. 23 as part of In Red Ink, an exhibit featuring works by 20 contemporary Native American artists.

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