First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 80

REVIEWS Neo Totems (2018), are arranged in active poses on a large platform. These painted cedar beings call out to viewers in their vibrant movements and visually compelling forms. As such, these abstracted, animal-like figures appear as though they present themselves for the world to see. However, Yuxweluptun’s Surrealist-influenced style betrays this notion of extroversion and openness. As much as one can see is also withheld— an act of resistance in the expectation that knowledge will always be shared indiscriminately. The artist’s painting, Floor Opener (2013), shows similar Surrealist beings performing a potlatch. 8 This scene has a cine-animation quality to it, evoking Tim Burton-like aesthetics. Pitseolak’s five serpentine sculptures in dark green also exude a Surrealist visual language. He infuses his own memories into objects that connect to people. Each work can be considered as grammar arranged in various ways to form new meanings. Laden Sole (2004) shows a shoe dragging a weight on a chain, while Lady (2011) is a cartoonish high heel shoe. As evidenced in the embedded drama recorded in and between the dialogue of these two objects, unexpected intersections continue to upend the status quo in Casa tomada. Thus, the exhibition exists as a conversation between individual and collective memories visualized in a prominently Surrealist aesthetic. Different worlds collide and visually speak to each other, and visitors act as moderators. As an example of this exhibition methodology, the curators strategically added a local layer to the biennial. They included a micaceous clay cast of the right foot of the bronze Juan de Oñate statue (1993)—an extremity severed by the Friends of Acoma in 1997 from the “trophy” of the Oñate 8. Press preview walk-through, SITE Santa Fe, August 1, 2018. 9. Naomi Beckwith, “If Thy Right Eye Offended Thee,” in Casa tomada, ed. Lucy Flint (Santa Fe: SITE Santa Fe, 2018). Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera created the statue in 1993. After its alteration by Friends of Acoma, Rivera made a bronze copy of the left foot to replace the missing right foot. 10. Matthew J. Martínez, “Remembering 400 Years of Exile,” Green Fire Times, August 2, 2014, web; Celina Salazar, “Don Juan de Oñate,” University of California, Berkeley, 1998, web. Monument and Resource Visitors Center (now the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area). 9 The group removed the foot to protest the commemoration of the conquistador Oñate (1550–1626). In 1599, a year after Oñate claimed present-day New Mexico lands for Spain, he imposed death and enslavement upon numerous Pueblo people and the dismemberment of the right feet of 24 Acoma warriors. 10 A gesture of historical redress, the display of this Indigenized object with an archive of articles surrounding its existence underscores the curators’ commitments to revealing unsettling truths and reminds audience members they are guests on Pueblo peoples’ lands. —Michelle J. Lanteri SANTA FE Cara Romero | EVERYWHEN: Indigenous Photoscapes Peters Projects O N VIEW from June 8 through August 25, 2018, this Santa Fe e x h i b it i o n m a r k e d Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero’s first solo show in the United States. Within a group of eleven digital, photographic prints, six distinct styles interacted with each other in this space. This variety attests to Romero’s conceptual and technical exploration in recent years. EVERYWHEN included one of the artist’s now-signature subjects: portraits of strong, Native women gazing away from the camera. Also in the exhibition are her narratives of Native histories in sepia-toned prints, diorama portraits of Native women in regalia, Water Memory portraits, and images that pay tribute to Chemehuevi culture heroes and the power of the Native community in Santa Fe. All of these works commemorate the multifaceted identities of Native people as visualized by Romero, a social topography that spirals through time, honoring an overlapping, Indigenous continuum of “everywhen.” 1 The gallery felt much like a life-size photo album that showcased several iterations of Romero’s visual interpre- tations of Indigeneity in a single room. Upon entry, viewers confronted TV Indians (2017) head on while seeing Kaa (2017) and Julia (2018) in periphery. Encountering a plurality of Romero’s works in one sight line produces a powerful effect. It is as if viewers step into the space and are told immediately that many stories await them. Peters Projects director Mark Del Vecchio shared that Romero designed her exhibition layout. 2 This detail shed light on the personal ethos and precision in the artworks’ juxtapositions and placements. TV Indians establishes the tone of EVERYWHEN. This large-scale print embodies the exhibition subtitle, “Indigenous Photoscapes.” In this work two Native women, another Native woman holding a child, and one Native man pose in their Pueblo regalia (signaling an Indigenous legacy) in a New Mexico landscape in front of 40 cathode ray tube televisions. The women lean on the TV sets, calling out a tension regarding the time immemorial, intergen- erational relationships between Native American peoples in contrast to the mere century-long representations of Native peoples by Hollywood. The man stands in the center, his regalia creating a fast-paced visual rhythm with the superimposed images from Smoke Signals (1998), Little Big Man (1970), and The Lone Ranger (1949–57). Romero explains the pop culture portrayals as “beloved moments” for many Native people. 3 Kaa also inscribes a moment of the exhibition’s theme of nonlinear time. Shot at 1/8000 second shutter speed, Romero referenced the Chemehuevi being, Clay Lady, to honor her gifts of clay and creativity and to visually interpret femininity as very much paralleling the temperamental and surprising process of firing clay. In this work, Indigenous histories converge in Romero’s collabo- rative portrayal of emerging ceramic artist 1. Cara Romero, Artist Statement, EVERYWHEN: Indigenous Photoscapes, June 8, 2018. 2. Mark Del Vecchio in discussion with author, August 17, 2018. 3. All quotes from Cara Romero come from an in-person conversation with the author, August 19, 2018. 78 | WWW.FIRSTAMERICANARTMAGAZINE.COM