News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 60

It wasn’t surprising really. The art world isn’t known for its inclusion. Exclusivity is what keeps prices high and the art scene desirable. The lecture began with the artist James Luna (Payómka- wichum, Ipi, and Mexican American) entering the stage and performing a mime-like dance set to a song by Prince. What the hell is this? Is this the lecture? People instinctively stand, some remove hats in respectful reverence to this Indian moving to the soulful rhythms. Weird, huh? I found myself watching the audience more than the performer. What were they thinking? Why are they responding this way? The song ends and Luna steps up to the podium. “Eh” he says, “just something I thought of.” People clap. He then goes on to show images of his work, jumping into and out of various characters that he’s developed through his years as a performance artist. As The Shameman, a cal- culated abstraction of shaman, Luna sought to offer up his “Wet Dream Catcher” to the highest bidder. The work was made from the broken-off head of a tennis racket featuring four condoms attached to it and representing the four “sacred” directions and colors. Most of the audience laughed but I’m sure some were confused or even offended; were they won- dering what they had gotten themselves into? Humor is a key characteristic of Luna’s work. It’s hard not to laugh when he’s performing in cheetah print bikini briefs with a sweet potato stuck in the crotch. But what is being presented is more than meets the eye. You need to dig deeper to appreciate what he’s expressing. There is a human- ity that is not only being expressed, but explored. More than once during this lecture I laughed out loud, only to realize I was the only one laughing. At other times, his dialog and imagery hit me like a brick and forced me to feel the weight of colonization on my own family’s history. His words and imagery opened wounds in me that hurt like a son of a bitch. At the same time, the non-Natives in the audience roared with laughter. I was different from the rest of the audience and they were different from me. This posed no problem for Luna. He maneuvered between cultures like he was weaving a basket. 58 ▼ N E WS F ROM N AT IVE C AL IFO RNIA Just as our Native basketweavers have done for centuries, Luna gathers his materials from his environment—pop cul- ture imagery, rez slang, TV and radio noise—and combines them with our contemporary cultural experiences, twisting them tightly ar չȁɥѽɥ́Ѽɕєѥհ)ɕͥ́ȁյ䁅́9ѥٔQ́ͽЁ)ݽɬɕեɕ́ɕѥ٥䰁ͥѕٔɅ)!݅́ѼѡхͬѡЁ䁅́əɵ)Ս͙ձ䁕ٕȁͥ)ݥ1չéɔ$Ёѡɔݕ)ɅЁѼѡéɕɽ$͕ѡȁѼ)хɥ丁ȁ䁕ѥɔ'eٔ͡ݸ)9ѥٔɥЁѡЁѥѼ́)ѕɅ9ѥٔͽ]Ё)́݅́ɕ͕ѥ)݅́Ѡͥɕ͕ѥ9ѥٔ)́յ̸!յ́ݡɕeЁɅѼ)ɕѕ͔ݽȸ)ѕȁ$ձ͕ѽѡȁЀ͔)ɕ%䁍䁥ѡ͡ݕȤ$ɽ5ȸ)1չѡ͕շé丁ɕ́ɽѡéəȴ)͕մхͽՅх́ɽչ)$ɽɽՍ͕ɥ)ɕQԁ܁ѡq= tٔͅ՜)Qɔݔхѡɔݔչݔ)=ȁɕ́ݕɔݥѡˊéɥٔ)յȁ́䁅ɥ́ɽ1)ݕɔɥ)ݥѠ䁑Ё եMݽɱ)!́ɥѼѡЁ݅́٥ͼ$ɔ)ݕЁЁɔ٥ѕѼ́ȁɉՔ)ݡٕȁ$݅́ȁյȁɕ'eٔ啐յȴ)́ɉՕ́Ё)ϊé͔Ёٕȁͥ)Qݕ䵙ٔ啅́ѕȁ٥ɹ́ͥ)ӊéЁЁ́ЁѡЁ́Ё䁵$ѡ)ɥ䁅ݕȰݥ́Ѽ)ѽȁչ́Ѽɕ锁ͅ)ݡЁѼͅ5Ё$ѡ́յ)́ɽͥ䰁́Ёȁ)%ӊéЁɥЁѼ͍Ёȁչѥɑ̸%ӊéѡ)ӊéɔ%䁽)́eЁд)Ёͥ䁙ȁѕѥȁ͔ѼɅ܁ȁи)QѡѥЁ݅́ȁɽЁȁ)́1չ%)݅́́ɔ+QɅ ɭ)ȸ