via e-flux :
REMIX: NEW MODERNITIES IN A POST-INDIAN WORLD
2301 N. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
In Remix: New Modernities in a Post-Indian World, 15 contemporary Native artists have much to say about the modern world. The exhibition presents mixed media work on canvas and in video, photography, sculpture, collage and performance. The artists explore broad themes of class, gender and globalization as well as engage in the more personal territory of family and community. Remix opened October 6, 2007, at the Heard Museum.
In one of several essays in the exhibition catalogue, Heard Museum curator Joe Baker, Delaware poses these questions: "Why are indigenous artists not allowed to celebrate the present as other artists do? Why do we require of Native artists a myth or fantasy, an iconography? What became of the celebrated ideal of multiculturalism, a world composed of ever-changing blends and mixtures?"
In response, Baker and co-curator Gerald McMaster, Cree turn the microphone over to the Remix artists who defy expectations and debunk biased mythology with their smart, complex and often satirical art. Much of the exhibit explores what it means to be of mixed heritage with strong ties -- and sometimes absent ties -- to Native communities.
Dustinn Craig, White Mountain Apache/Navajo, sees an analogy between skateboarding culture and complex traditions of tribal life. His video, 4 Wheel War Pony, tells the story of young Apache skateboarders. His artist statement explains, "Apache kids with skateboards live with dreams so large they will never dare to tell anyone. Yet those dreams get a little smaller each year, with the death of another friend, or the impossible success of another."
Franco Mondini-Ruiz, who is a Tejano of Mexican-American and Italian stock, negates stereotypes by humorously embracing them. For Remix, his participation becomes performance as the artist creates and sells 100 paintings in a live marketplace. His paintings and sculptures are created from tchotchkies found in thrift and souvenir shops, and the performance is a statement on the "business" of collecting art.
Cree artist Kent Monkman appropriates 19th century romantic landscapes to bring out an erotic perversity that underscores pop cultural representations of early relationships between Native Americans and European settlers. In Remix, the artist appears as the "half breed" drag queen, Miss Chief Share Eagle Testickle. This alter ego is also the purported creator of the work, which includes a suggestive video installation called "Shooting Geronimo," shown inside a 20-plus-foot tipi created in crystal.
Video games are the territory of Zuni artist Alan Natachu. In his ongoing project, he satirizes stereotyped American Indians myths that dominate the current video gaming industry with images like the blood thirsty Indian Warrior.
Artist Anna Tsouhlarakis, of Navajo and Greek heritage, challenges stereotypes through role reversal. In her video "Let's Dance," she struggles to learn diverse steps of other ethnic dances including an Irish jig, line dancing and a Haitian voodoo dance. As student rather than teacher, Tsouhlarakis steps into a new role; no longer is she the "outsider" performing Native traditions for curious strangers.
This exhibition was organized by the Heard Museum, Phoenix, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and co-curated by Joe Baker and Gerald McMaster. Remix will be on view at the Heard through April 27, 2008, and travels to the Smithsonian's George Gustav Heye Center in New York in May 2008.