James Luna and toy pose as coloful pomo Kokopelli Saturday, September 29 at 3:30 pm at the IPCC in Albuquerque
In 1987, a then relatively unknown artist James Luna enacted a piece for which he would become as famous as Native American performance artists can hope to be. The show, which went up at San Diego’s Museum of Man, was titled “The Artifact Piece,” and it featured Luna lying inside a display like an anthropological “indigenous man,” mocking Western modes of objectifying Native American bodies and artifacts.
Overnight, the Native American art world had “discovered” (or perhaps had thrust upon them) their own avant-garde weirdo performance artist, on par or exceeding the mainstream’s heroes like Laurie Anderson, Karen Finley, and others of the period. Through spoken word, performance, and installation, (including digital installations like this one), Luna was certainly been at the forefront of the movement to fashion a new kind of Native Art, one that is quite far away from the “stuff for tourists coming off the train,” that a lot of us would like to see a whole lot less of in the Native Art world..
The National Museum of the American Indian seemed to think very highly of him when it sent him as their sole representative to the Venice Biennale in 2005. There, Luna, (a member of the Luiseño Tribe of California Mission Indians) performed a piece called “Emendatio”, which was dedicated to a Luiseño leader named Pablo Tac who, in the 1830s, was sent to Rome to learn Western ways and Catholicism, but died before he could return to his people.
Research this fellow, if you’ve a mind for that new kinda art, for this cat is the real McCoy, as interesting an artist as anyone working today, Native or not. And now you have a chance to see him, this Saturday, September 29 at 3:30 pm the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Show up to the event on Saturday at the IPCC in Albuquerque – it should go without saying that I have no idea what kind of performance Mr. Luna will enact – but I’m sure it will be interesting and worth yer precious time.
Admission $6 for adults, Native Americans free.