“Collection vs. Capture”
“Collection vs. Capture” is the theme of the next Conversations event at the Santa Fe Art Institute. On the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 26, Cannupa Hanska Luger, sculptor; Devorah Romanek, curator of exhibits at the University of New Mexico’s Maxwell Museum of Anthropology; and Dallin Maybee, chief operating officer of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts will lead the discussion, examining three questions: ▼ How do Native artists and collectors navigate the ethical quandaries around the production and collection of heritage-based objects? ▼ Can collecting be considered predatory? ▼ How do meaning and valuation change when making work for a market that sometimes fetishizes the cultural significance of objects?
“I think it’s really interesting, that idea of fetishizing culture, and of culture for sale,” Hanska Luger said. “I think about that because it hurts me in my heart a little bit to see certain items as commodities — like, off the top of my head, the war bonnet or a ceremonial-looking headdress, even if it’s not significant in having an actual function, but the practice of making it for sale kind of cripples its power. It takes away from the authentic item.”
Hanska Luger, who describes his lineage as Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, Austrian, and Norwegian, is a 2011 graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts. In mid-August, he was busy finishing a monumental steel-and-clay artwork for exhibition at Blue Rain Gallery. “This is a struggle in the Native art market because the whole industry was built around objectization and fetishizing, and trying to navigate through that in this market that’s set aside for Native people, some of those things come along for the ride, just out of normalcy.”
Collectors may be lured by “the unknown and the exotic,” but Hanska Luger said about his own work, “I take great pains to create things that have no significance to my culture. I make these things up.”
Nina Elder, SFAI residency program manager, said, “A lot of what will be talked about in this conversation are issues that come up around Indian Market where artists are emulating objects that have contested histories or contested uses. We just want to allow these people who are more enmeshed in the conversation to talk about it in a place that has no affiliation with one side or the other.”
The Aug. 26 event at SFAI (1600 St. Michael’s Drive) begins at 7 p.m. For information, call 505-424-5050 or visit www.sfai.org. — Paul Weideman