Mixed Me­dia

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“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

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