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October 26, 2018 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Friday, October 26, 7pm
Screening and performance: THE INFORMANTS
Adam Khalil, Jackson Polys, and KITE
Followed by a conversation with Adam Khalil, Jackson Polys, KITE, K. Wayne Yang, and Oscar Gutiérrez
Organized as a part of A grammar built with rocks
Through video and performance, THE INFORMANTS will examine the desire for indigeneity in the myths, dreams, and political foundations of the so-called Americas.
Demands for indigeneity have long been entwined with efforts to erase and replace the Indigenous. Channeled through practices of salvage ethnography and “playing Indian,” subliminal attractions evince yearnings for a spectral indigeneity that is removed from actual Indigenous people. The relegation of Indigenous identities to the past denies the presence of bodies currently living on colonized land.
Indigenous artists who participate in the art world of settler-colonial states are expected to provide knowledge in a relationship similar to that between informant and anthropologist. In our current period of existential and environmental catastrophe, desires for Indigenous epistemologies increase and enterprising settlers labor to extract this understanding as a natural resource. From an Indigenous perspective, this has palpable consequences, from romanticization and commodification to appropriation and cultural erasure.
Many non-indigenous people find ways to frame themselves as indigenous, just as Indigenous people perform indigeneity themselves. If these tendencies are so deeply entrenched in this nation’s self-image to be apparently inescapable, can they be studied, manipulated, or employed by Indigenous people to catalyze an expansion of Indigenous agency, amplifying the power of the informant? Can desires that push Indigenous people to an ideal and irretrievable past instead be channeled to promote the imagining of Indigenous futures?
Adam Khalil is a filmmaker and artist from the Ojibway tribe who lives and works in Brooklyn. His practice attempts to subvert traditional forms of ethnography through humor, relation, and transgression. Khalil’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance Film Festival, Walker Arts Center, Lincoln Center, and Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions. Khalil is the recipient of various fellowships and grants, including but not limited to: Sundance Art of Nonfiction, Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Opportunity Fellowship, UnionDocs Collaborative Fellowship, and Gates Millennium Scholarship. Khalil received his BA from Bard College.
Jackson Polys is an artist from Tlingit territory, living and working between what are currently called Alaska and New York, whose work examines negotiations toward the limits and viability of desires for Indigenous growth. He holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University (2015), and is recipient of a 2017 NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship. His individual and collaborative works have appeared at the Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum, Artists Space, Burke Museum, Images Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Union Docs, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
KITE aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglala Lakota performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD student at Concordia University. Her research is investigates contemporary Lakota philosophy through research-creation, computational media, and performance practice. Recently, KITE has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fiber sculptures, immersive video & sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records.
K. Wayne Yang is involved in urban education and community organizing, and writes about decolonization and everyday epic organizing, particularly from underneath ghetto colonialism, often with his frequent collaborator, Eve Tuck. He is interested in the complex role of cities as sites of settler colonialism, as stages for empire, as places of resettlement and gentrification, and as always-already on Indigenous lands. He is Associate Professor in Ethnic Studies at UCSD.
Oscar Gutierrez is a community organizer with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) from Southeast Los Angeles (Tongva Territory) and a PhD student in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego.