James Luna

Hope you can come see
ISHI: The Archive Performance
James Luna with Sheila Tishla Skinner
California State University San Marcos, ARTS 111, September 12
Remember to RSVP for tickets
Beautiful poster above created by Megan Doughty

from Culture Storm:
“ISHI: THE ARCHIVE PERFORMANCE” 
is a new work written and performed by James Luna, renowned Native American, visual and performance artist. In 1911, an Indian man walked into the small northern California town of Oroville. His sudden appearance inspired fright, laughter, and pity from the populace.  The civic leaders had the foresight to contact an anthropologist who came to the conclusion that Ishi indeed was the last of his tribe. It was decided that for his welfare and for the advancement of science that he would occupy the Museum on the University of California Berkeley’s campus, where he lived out his remaining years as a living specimen.

The archives suggest there is more to this story, which has never been told. Believing that the story of Ishi is one that should be remembered and hold an important place in the history and cultures of California and that there is much to learn from him and his plight. Mr. Luna has created a performance that explores this significant life. Many questions about Ishi’s experience, both mysterious and uncomfortable, are evoked by this performance.

On some questions Ishi remained silent, perhaps because of language barriers (as no one could completely translate his language) and so there are many questions that remain which only he could have answered.  Perhaps he could have but chose not to, an “ole Indian” trick?  In any event Ishi’s story remains as a grim reminder of Western fascination with Indigenous cultures and its detrimental disregard of humans, forgetting that we are all sentient beings.

James believes that the Ishi performance has manifested itself at this time in his life, but it’s been waiting inside him for years and has now made its appearance with a vengeance!  He rates this new work with his much-lauded “Artifact Piece.” As in life, Art matters have come full circle.

About James LunaInternationally renowned performance and installation artist James Luna (Puyukitchum/Luiseno) resides on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in North County San Diego, California. With over 30 years of exhibition and performance experience, Luna has given voice to Native American cultural issues, pursued innovative and versatile media within his disciplines, and charted waters for other artists to follow.  His powerful works transform gallery spaces into battlefields, where the audience is confronted with the nature of cultural identity, the tensions generated by cultural isolation, and the dangers of cultural misinterpretations, all from an Indigenous perspective.

Posted by deborah small

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