“A Post Indian World”: The View from a Skateboard

The National Museum of the American Indian explores the work of artists whose common Native ancestry is only a starting point.

poster for

"Remix: New Modernities in a Post-Indian World" Exhbition

at The National Museum of the American Indian (George Gustav Heye Center)
in the Lower Manhattan area
This event has ended - (2008-06-07 - 2008-09-21)

In Reviews by Rajesh Barua 2008-08-20 print

David Hannan, ''Untitled (the hunt/hunted)'' 2006-2007

More provocative than anything one might expect from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan, “Remix: New Modernities in a Post Indian World” slices together the work of 15 contemporary artists. These works range from photographs and oil paintings, to impressive mixed media installations like Untitled (the hunt/hunted) (2006-2007) by David Hannan, a chandelier of spinning transparent elk sculpted out of clear packing tape. The hanging mass of chained together deer casts patterns of shadow as it hovers delicately over the hardwood floor. Like many of the pieces in “Remix”, a show whose artists toy with the symbols and stereotypes of their American Indian heritages, it subverts any notion of the mystical.

The spiritual awe so associated with Native American cultures splinters here under the force of its artists’ modern commentary. As you walk into the exhibition area, Bernard Williams’ Charting America (2002 – present) overtakes an entire wall covered top to bottom with dozens of “tribal symbols” that appear to radiate themes of the sacred and ancestral, but on closer inspection it is in fact a satirical and derisive history of European corruption on the North American continent.

Bernard Williams
Charting America (2002 - present)

From confrontational jabs at American pop culture, to lighthearted glimpses of tribal life, “Remix” is loud and varied. Dustin Craigs’ 4-Wheel Warpony (2007), a skateboarding video of Apache teenagers, poignantly mashes music with visual snaps of young dreams from a place not often heard from in the mainstream. And painters like Luis Gutierrez and Hector Ruiz tread through frustrations with bright brushstrokes. Ruiz comes through with an aggressiveness similar to Basquiat, with bright color smudges and crude figures seemingly ripped from a bad dream or hallucination.

“Remix” is well worth checking out. It brings an eclectic, wry and vibrant energy to the excellent and too often overlooked National Museum of the American Indian.

Rajesh Barua

Rajesh Barua. For show, Rajesh is part Peruvian, part Bangladeshi, and a 1st generation American. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he should be finishing a BA in Philosophy any time now from Purchase College, SUNY. In the meanwhile, he gets by doing odd jobs, reading Plato, and attempting to be a freelance writer. Oh, and writing his thesis. » See other writings


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