First American Art Magazine No. 22, Spring 2019 - Page 69

CANNUPA HANSKA LUGER “We go to these spaces and apologize and remember how to let the land lead.” The Hero Twins pictured are inspired by the oral history of many tribes. Their faces are completely covered. Of the figures, Luger says: I’ve had these forms, We Have Agency, and those informed the notion that we’re the ones we’ve been waiting for. They were sparked from Native hero tropes, monster and monster slayer types. I made regalia for The One Who Checks and the One Who Balances from armor I took to Standing Rock and riot police gear. Those two armors were the dualities and ends of a spectrum that became the core of the regalia forms. Their role was to destroy the monster. I wanted to limit my human experiences—you can’t see or hear when wearing them, just feel your way through the environment. I take these regalia to landscapes that have been abused by uranium and coal and create movements, dances as simple as walking in a way that the landscape decides your movements. We go to these spaces and apologize and remember how to let the land lead. Under the twins lay the railroad tracks operated by the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad to transport coal from the Peabody Energy Kayenta Mine to the Navajo Generating Station power plant, an integral part of the infrastruc- ture built around industries of extraction, such as coal. Inside the gallery, those figures, covered head to toe in felt, crocheted blankets, and beadwork, are installed side by side in The One Who Checks and the One Who Balances. One’s hand is in the mouth of a black snake as if to push it back into the bowels of the earth. The serpent, This Is Not a Snake, is compiled from oil drums, ammunition cans, trash, found objects, steel, and ceramic. Its fangs are made with two gas pumps. MOVING FORWARD, Luger’s practice is becoming ever more collaborative and less about making things to sell. His craft is oriented toward the land, the possibility of ceremony in art, of generating empathy in sharing creativity and activism over the internet, and the future—cultivating the conditions under which generations that come after us can thrive. For now, Luger says that working within institutions, including museums, means holding them accountable for their role in generating narratives of the so-called “vanishing Indian.” He says, “All of the institutional scholarship on Native peoples is dependent on us being terminal. But we’re still here, and we’ve contributed so much to everyone else’s existence.” Part of that labor involves shepherding said institutions into an Indigenous worldview, one of “reverence over resource,” he describes, for “we have an endless capacity to give through all the horrible things we’ve lived through. That’s how you make a good knife—heat and pressure.” CANNUPAHANSKA.COM SPRING 2019 | 67