November 24, 2008

A pop/Native/comic-book collision

London/First Look:  Faile’s “Lost In Glimmering Shadows” At Lazarides GalleryAfter rocketing into the stratosphere of the underground art world in the past few years, the anonymous collaborative street art duo known only as FAILE is making huge waves across the pond with the debut of “Lost in Glimmering Shadows,” a show of ambitious multimedia work at London’s starmaking LAZARIDES GALLERY. ... Introducing a new Native American theme to their work, Faile are returning to their early aesthetic influences growing up in the Southwest by channeling appropriated Pop cultural renderings of American Indian culture into their trademark heavily layered work in a pointed commentary on “the expanse of contemporary commercialism at the expense of society’s connection with nature and spirit.”Comment:  Follow the link to see all the art in this show.

This looks like a fabulous pop-art blitz of Native American and comic-book iconography. Too bad the show was in London and has closed already.

I imagine the show's message is something like this: Americans have appropriated and exploited Native images for commercial and entertainment purposes. Now artists are appropriating and exploiting American themes and styles to fight back. They're showing us how the mainstream has distorted Native culture in a virtual fun-house mirror.

But a caveat: Judging by their reaction to the infamous NFL SUPERPRO #6, I doubt the Hopi would approve of FAILE's using their kachinas in their art. This is where a Native artist might've handled the material more sensitively.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.


Anonymous said...

...This not "native" art. it is "native-influenced." Like some earlier works of Roy Lichtenstein. A nice try but NO cigar. They SAY it's about misappropriation but IT IS misappropriation of the highest degree. Just because they show in a gallery in London does not make thier stance on "native" life legit. It just means they've "made it".
In the mean time Native artists struggle in the "natural history museum ghettos" that the SMithsonian, The Heard and others have creAted for "our" art.

Rob said...

The phrase "Native art" may refer to art with a Native theme as well as art by Natives. But since I didn't use the phrase "Native art" in the posting, this explanation is irrelevant.

FYI, this blog covers material about Natives as well as by Natives. The exhibit was an example of an item about Natives.

No one said the non-Native artists' stance on Natives is "legit." Nor am I claiming that my interpretation of their stance is legit. Their stance and my interpretation of it are what they are--no more and no less.

I've posted items on Lichtenstein before--for instance, Lichtenstein Inspired by Indians. I've also posted many items on legitimate Native artists. That mixture will continue to be the policy here at Newspaper Rock.