Yohana Junker

On Art, Religion, and the Poetics of Resistance

Your Last Chance to See “Dear Listener: Works by Nicholas Galanin,” at Phoenix’s Heard Museum

During the month of August, I conducted research at the Heard Museum and had the opportunity to see this outstanding retrospective, which will be on view only until Monday, September 3rd! If in Phoenix, Arizona, go see this! If not, below is a sneak peek, including an interview with the artist himself, phenomenal images provided by the Heard Museum, and several links to learn more about the multidisciplinary work of Nicholas Galanin.

 "Dear Listener: Works by Nicholas Galanin," at the Heard Museum. All images provided by the Heard Museum.

"Dear Listener: Works by Nicholas Galanin," at the Heard Museum. All images provided by the Heard Museum.

 

Nicholas Galanin, a Tlingit/Unangax̂/ Multi-Disciplinary artist who currently lives in Sitka, Alaska, has been described by the New York Times as a “standout” artist in the contemporary art world. His retrospective, Dear Listener: Works by Nicholas Galanin, exhibited at the Heard Museum is a fierce clapback at the face of Empire (for this metaphor, I thank Alan C. Palaez Lopez, who coined the term during a workshop at the Indigenous Americas Working Group at UCBerkeley in 2017). Through his work, Galanin sends out a ringing sound wave, directly addressing his audience:

DSC_5030 copy.jpg

“Dear Listener," he writes, "My work is a sovereign creation as communication, transmission of knowledge and continuum that has existed since time immemorial. I continue the cultures I descend from and live within, listening and contributing thanks to the teachers who have shown me good ways to follow. . . . You signal your coordinates, I signal mine with this work. . . .

Gunalchéesh”

  We Dreamt Deaf,  polar bear taxidermy, 2015 |  Axes in Polyrhuthm, When My Drums Come Knocking They Watch , wood, cotton, silk, jute, woodchips, collaboration with Nep Sidhu, 2018.

We Dreamt Deaf, polar bear taxidermy, 2015 | Axes in Polyrhuthm, When My Drums Come Knocking They Watch, wood, cotton, silk, jute, woodchips, collaboration with Nep Sidhu, 2018.

The opening piece to the exhibition, a polar bear taxidermy that vanishes before our eyes (We Dreamt DEAF, 2015) is flanked by the monumental collaboration with Nep Sidhu, Axes in Polyrhythm, When My Drums Come Knocking They Watch (2018), setting the tone and ushering us viewers into a space that is as ground shaking as it is integrative.

  God Complex,  glazed porcelain, 2015.

God Complex, glazed porcelain, 2015.

One of his ceramic sculptures, God Complex, features the all-white riot gear of a police officer, which assumes the posture of the crucified Christ. His is a visual commentary on militarization, securitization, and police brutality against Native Americans and other POC. God Complex exposes and criticizes the prison-industrial complex, which continues to profit at the expense of incarcerated BIPOC. 

  A Supple Plunder,  ballistic torsos, two-chanel video, collaboration with Jerrod Galanin, 2015-2018.

A Supple Plunder, ballistic torsos, two-chanel video, collaboration with Jerrod Galanin, 2015-2018.

The exhibition also includes works such as A Supple Plunder (2015-2018), a collaboration with his brother Jerrod Galanin, using the pseudonym Leonard Getinthecar. The nine ballistic torsos and two-channel video honor the twelve Unangan men who were bound together by Russian invaders and were experimentally shot to see how many human beings could be killed with a single bullet. As an anti-monument, this work marks and remembers the deaths endured by Indigenous people.

  White Noise, American Prayer Rug,  wool, cotton, 2018.

White Noise, American Prayer Rug, wool, cotton, 2018.

The prayer rug White Noise (2018)the Imaginary Indian, Totem (2016), the US flag and ammunition The American Dream Is Alie and Well (2012), the male performer White Carver (2012-present), the Indian Children’s Bracelet (2014) all denounce the colonial project while honoring and celebrating the cultural agency sustained by his community.

  Imaginary Indian, Totem,  wood, floral wallpaper, paint, abalone shells, 2016.

Imaginary Indian, Totem, wood, floral wallpaper, paint, abalone shells, 2016.

  White Carver,  velvet rope, wood stump, wooden platform, white male performer, 2012-present.

White Carver, velvet rope, wood stump, wooden platform, white male performer, 2012-present.

  Indian Children's Bracelet,  had-engraved iron, 2014.

Indian Children's Bracelet, had-engraved iron, 2014.

Galanin's works confront the brutality of the American colonial desire while denouncing the ways in which cultural theft is institutionalized, packaged, and sold for consumption. They also provide a strategic tactic of “Survivance.” reinserting Indigenous art as equals in the cultural production of this country.       

  The American Dream is Alie and Well,  U.S. flag, .50-caliber ammunition, foam, gold leaf, plastic, 2012.

The American Dream is Alie and Well, U.S. flag, .50-caliber ammunition, foam, gold leaf, plastic, 2012.

Working across mediums, geographies, and generations, Galanin demonstrates how Indigenous bodies, land, and cultures have been "handled," “contained,” and essentialized as a function of white supremacy and colonialism. The artist's oeuvre demonstrates that to decolonize (in the context of art institutions) entails the sharing of power, visibility, and authority with colonized subjects. “Culture,” he writes, “is rooted in connection to the land; like land, culture cannot be contained. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit & Unangax̂ creative production and knowledge connected to the land I belong to.”

  What Have We Become?,  2017.

What Have We Become?, 2017.

Galanin understands his work as engaging across cultures in a continuum that resists romanticization, categorization, and limitation of the Indigenous subject. He explains that he uses his work “to explore adaptation, resilience, survival, active cultural amnesia, dream, memory, cultural resurgence, connection to and disconnection from the land.” Galanin also believes that it is through the passing of this art practice and knowledge to his apprentices  that his culture will continue to hold the keys to creative sovereignty and “reject the dehumanizing erasure of Indigenous knowledge, land, and culture, all of which are interwoven genocide.” 

  Creation with Her Children,  collaboration with Merritt Johnson, 2017.

Creation with Her Children, collaboration with Merritt Johnson, 2017.

Dear Listener runs through September 3rd, 2018 and can be visited Mondays to Saturdays from 9:30am to 5pm and Sundays from 11am to 5pm. The Heard Museum, which is committed to advancing American Indian Art, is located at 2301 North Central Avenue in Phoenix, AZ 85004. If you can’t make it to the exhibition but would like to learn more about it, you can purchase the excellent catalog here (which includes a vinyl from the artist’s band Indian Agent!). Lastly, a resounding OBRIGADA to Nicholas Galanin for generously agreeing to be interviewed on August 20th, 2018.

Em Resistência,

Yohana A. Junker

  She in Constellation Medicine Form, No Pigs in Paradise, Series, 2,  Collaboration with Nep Sidhu, created under the collective Black Constellation, 2018.

She in Constellation Medicine Form, No Pigs in Paradise, Series, 2, Collaboration with Nep Sidhu, created under the collective Black Constellation, 2018.

 

 

Exhibition at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, in Evanston, Il

Friends in the Chicago/Evanston area:

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is featuring a sneak preview of my upcoming Fall exhibition from April 21st to 26th. They are located at 2121 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL, 60201 and you are welcome to view the work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, at G-ETS's chapel entrance.

Please help spread the word!

Em resistência e paz,

Yohana

 

08B9715D-3C57-4023-9786-FC3794A069D1.JPG
Yohana_Page Wall_12 Segundos-Travessia_GETS_2018 Exhibition copy.jpg
2B235B0A-167A-4867-8840-ABDDB2533AFD.JPG

“Graced in Sacred Ground: The Hour of Forgiveness”

CollaborationColaboração. “Graced in Sacred Ground: The Hour of Forgiveness” is the second section of a book-length pilgrimage that began when two colleagues dared to become fellow peregrinas & subsequently recognized the other as a kindred artistscholar. Our collaboration has been just that—our time spent getting to know one another; our support of one another, even when geography has attempted to work against us; and most importantly, the communitas that continues to drive our selection of the Words. Words—single moments in language that reveal the human condition—live at the heart of our project. We pilgrimage together through language—dictionaries, thesauruses, & personal stories—to arrive at seven words that resonate, reveal, and reflect the hour’s theme, here “Forgiveness.” We collaborate on words, we take our own artistic, yet parallel journey, towards those words, and we arrive at a liminal space in which word&image slide one onto the other creating our collaborative experience.

 

Nicole De Leon is a poet&scholar. She earned her B.A. & M.A. in English from Sonoma State University. Currently, she is working on her Ph.D. in Historical & Cultural Studies of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union. Her dissertation focuses on two 20th century poets, Marianne Moore & Denise Levertov, and the ways in which they construct their poetic worlds so as to create imaginary spaces where readers can pilgrimage (to, from, within, and through). 

Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], 2018

“Não importa quão alienados nos tornemos, continuaremos a produzir padrões que espelham o mundo natural” Trecho da obra de Victoria Vesna, ‘Mind and Body Shifting: From Networks to Nanosystems,’ 2002.

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.


As obras de Flora Assumpção aqui reunidas propõem um atravessamento da membrana frágil que separa o natural do artifício. Em Cativa [A Natureza da Natureza], a instalação complexa que se estende por todo espaço da galeria re-desenha e re-apresenta padrões encontrados na natureza, nos convidando a ruminar sobre o caráter da intervenção humana nela. Será que integramos e sustentamos os ambientes que habitamos ou também os desestabilizamos, dominamos e des-naturamos? Por meio da manipulação de materiais do cotidiano—produzidos industrialmente e modificados manualmente—Flora nos confronta com tais interrogações.

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 

Num mundo tão fantástico quanto exuberante que a artista nos proporciona, a percepção do espaço, da arte e da natureza se emaranham. O material—que em outras instâncias seria considerado inerte e não-responsivo—passa a incorporar vitalidade, complexidade e dinamismo, como os seres imaginários de Borges. À medida em que seguimos o percurso destes materiais pela galeria, passamos a esquadrinhar um labirinto de possibilidades no qual a relação com a matéria se caracteriza mais por movimento, fluxo, oscilação e volubilidade do que por forma, propriedade, permanência e estabilidade, como sugerem Deleuze e Guattari.1 A obra de Flora também nos remete ao pensamento de Elizabeth Grosz, Donna Haraway e Jane Bennet: todas sugerem que objetos naturais e artificiais estão sempre em estado de alteração, emaranhados numa vibrante teia de relações e colaborações pegajosas, voláteis.2

 Foto da exposição  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 

Na simulação híbrida que consubstancia a natureza, o cotidiano, a tecnologia, o industrializado, a maleabilidade e a rigidez, as obras confundem a expectativa do observador, enevoando os limites entre forma e função, familiar e fantástico, o lúdico e o crítico. As estruturas de folhagens artificiais que demarcam a galeria, por exemplo, podem ser descobertas como trepadeiras, plantas rasteiras, tentáculos animais, uma cascata ou cachoeira camufladas que abalam o espaço como ondas, maremotos. Sua investigação artística traz experimentos que delineiam e articulam uma cartografia da proximidade. É no entrelaçar das formas, das repetições, dos materiais, das cores, das texturas e dos corpos (sejam eles animais fantásticos ou humanos) que um convite nos é estendido para que tateemos e re-imaginemos as possibilidades, mutações e limites da interação humana com a natureza.

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 

Tal convite-provocação desloca o animal humano da posição de centralidade criativa: somos tão fundamentalmente nativos quanto recolhidos da natureza—tão fabricantes quanto fabricados por ela. Para Bachelard, é no tocar dessas formas e ramagens que podemos compreender a realidade: cada gesto poético capaz de penetrar a membrana da matéria encontra, do outro lado, a beleza e o “cerne do ser.”3 Na lírica de Bachelard, a matéria possui dois valores: um de elevar e outro de aprofundar a imaginação humana. Isso se desdobra num movimento vagaroso, doloroso e potente como articula Jacques Bousquet: “Uma nova imagem custa à humanidade o mesmo labor que uma nova característica custa à uma planta.”4 No labor humano da imagem, Flora introduz a dimensão do trabalho manual em sua instalação—frequentemente ligado à atividade doméstica e à arte popular—ressignificando e reposicionando a criação artesanal num circuito artístico de fine arts. Esta manobra permite o desalinhavar de práticas artísticas tidas como dominantes, costurando uma relação complexa entre o centro e a periferia que se dá na superfície de cada Hydra.

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 

Nesta vasta instalação, as dobras desencadeiam inúmeras reações: elas esticam, encolhem, alargam, misturam, desdobram, conferem densidade e flexibilidade não somente à matéria, como também à memoria e à imaginação.5 Em cada um dos milhares de vincos presentes na obra, a periferia encontra o centro, as extremidades tocam o eixo central e a energia produzida pela tração das mãos no plástico, no feltro, no papel, encharcam esses materiais de potencialidade. As sobreposições das dobras da artista capturam as contrações do tempo, as contingências da história e evidenciam a advertência de Latour— de que não há pura cultura, tecnologia, ou pura natureza, tudo flui e contamina as diversas dimensões desta labiríntica rede.6 Ao perambular por esses espaços da galeria, talvez delineemos uma praxis transformadora e criativa às urgências de nossos tempos de modo a nos reintegrar tanto à natureza, quanto à produção— sustentável—do artifício. E, para que isto aconteça, sigamos Hydra—que vem para limpar a névoa que encobre nossas percepções. 7

 Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção,  Cativa [A natureza da natureza] , Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

Foto da exposição de Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza], Galeria Janete Costa, 2018. Fotografia: Flávio Lamenha.

 

1. Deleuze e Guattari, A Thousand Plateaux, (1980) (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).
2. Jane Bennet, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, 2010; Elizabeth Grosz, Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space, 2001; Donna Haraway, Staying With the Trouble, 2016.
3. Gaston Bachelard, L’eau et les Rêves, (Paris: José Corti, 1942), 1-3.
4. Ibid.
5. Como articulam Michel Serres, Atlas (Paris: Éditions Julliard, 1994), 47-8 e Gilles Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trad. Tom Conley (Londres: Athlone Press, 1993), 3.
6. Bruno Latour, Politics of Nature (1999) (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004).
7. Stéphane Mallarmé, Divagations, citada por Bachelard em L’eau et les rêves (Paris, José Corti, 1942), 1.


Yohana Junker, doutoranda em história da arte e ciências da religião na Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. Pesquisa arte contemporânea nas Américas, com ênfase na convergência entre arte, ecologia, espiritualidade e produção artística indígena.


Flora Assumpção, Cativa [A natureza da natureza]. 2018
Instalação. 1500m2
Plásticos e tecidos diversos.
Galeria Janete Costa. Recife - PE - Brasil

Instalação site-specific / work in progress composta pelas obras:
Rastejantes [ou Cascata]. 2015-2018
Plásticos translúcidos coloridos e grampos. Dimensões variáveis.
Hydra. 2018
Tapetes de feltro sintético e tecidos diversos coloridos. Dimensões variáveis.
Teia [Ananse Ntontan]. 2018
Linha prateada, pregos e escada em espiral. Dimensões variáveis.
Mboitatás I e II (versão II). 2009-2018
Grafite sobre parede. Dimensões variáveis.
Serpente Beija-Flor, das Criaturas Híbridas. 2014-2018. 
Impressão digital. 2,8 x 7,55 m

https://floraassumpcao.blogspot.com.br/2018/03/cativa-natureza-da-natureza-2018.html


Textos críticos de Yohana Junker e Icaro Ferraz Vidal Junior

Fotografia e produção de Flávio Lamenha

Agradecimentos: Flávio Lamenha, Yohana Junker, Icaro Ferraz Vidal Junior, Fabianne L'Amour, Luciene Torres, Marcela Dias, Carlito Person e equipe do educativo da Galeria Janete Costa, Lucas da DAC LTDA e Edelandia da Avil.


Muié Rendá

 I come from a long lineage of women weavers. I believe they have weaved their way into freedom. From violence, poverty, misogyny.  Here is one of them—Muié Rendá.  Around their weaving circles, they/we speak of losses, of memory, of hope, of despair.  They/we pray to God.  We become witnesses to a life that holds all kinds of irreconcilable contradictions, all kinds of knots.  As we co-weave and co-create and undo the gnarly configurations of these threads, we speak of accountability, of hope, of transformation. Our songs speak of an ethics of combat and resistance, in which there is room for the delicate cotton thread, the thin needle, and—sometimes—the knife.

I come from a long lineage of women weavers. I believe they have weaved their way into freedom. From violence, poverty, misogyny.

Here is one of them—Muié Rendá.

Around their weaving circles, they/we speak of losses, of memory, of hope, of despair.

They/we pray to God.  We become witnesses to a life that holds all kinds of irreconcilable contradictions, all kinds of knots.

As we co-weave and co-create and undo the gnarly configurations of these threads, we speak of accountability, of hope, of transformation. Our songs speak of an ethics of combat and resistance, in which there is room for the delicate cotton thread, the thin needle, and—sometimes—the knife.