Article Review: Trickster Plays: James Luna Performs Postindian Survivance at the 51st Venice Biennale
Eleanor LeBeau starts the article with a quote depicting the need for growth. The quote, from Leslie Mormon Silko, emphasizes that growth is primary to survival. It sets the stage for the main agenda of the article, focusing on the struggle for the Native Americans to establish a postindian culture. The author uses pictures depicting the journey traveled by one of the postindian performer. The article focuses on James Luna’s works in trying to disintegrate the commonly held notion of the Native Americans. It also analyzes the literary work of Gerald Vizenor, a Native American Theorist and writer. The author aims at discussing postindian survivance as seen through the James Luna oeuvre.
According to the author, postindian survivance is a creation of new discourse that is transformative. The display of living Native Americans depicts a continuation of culture that was not previously available. The author succeeds in introducing the topic of survivance and postindian to the reader. She does this by citing previous research by well known Native American writers and providing examples of works done by Luna (132)
With strategic quotes from Luna’s interview and comments by other experts of Indian history and culture, LeBeau manages to lead readers to believe that the current notion of an “ Indian” is an invention of the colonialist, and a misguided one at that. Apart from the photos of Luna in action at different occasions and quotes from Vizenor’s work, the author uses a castellation of quotes and citation from other experts in this field.
LeBeau points to photos of Luna’s performance where he uses circle of stones, cans of Spam, sugar packets and insulin syringes, which exemplifies the new challenges faced by the indigenous people (136). She also points to other instances where Luna’s performance challenges Christianity especially Catholicism (134). Museums held images of Native Americans in the past but did not showcase stories of the current situation. Performances by Luna demystify this culture. These photos are now in museums and are depicting a continuing culture, which is the central aim of postindian survivance and Emendatio performances (137).
The writer concludes by Luna’s performance at 51st Venice Biennale gave the world a glimpse of the postindian survivance. She signs out by indicating the Luna’s trickster plays continue to redefine postindian identity and art. She attributes the fading notion of the Indian to the works of Luna, Vizenor and Tac (140).
The article is a good read directed to scholars and experts in Native American art. An ordinary person may have to read it twice to get the full grasp of what she is talking about. The article is education and succeeds in explaining Luna’s postindian survivance performances. It is also filled with facts, figures, and explanations that help the reader to get a clear understanding of the theme topic.
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LeBeau, Eleanor. Trickster Plays: James Luna Performs Postindian Survivance at the 51st Venice Biennale. iPortal, Web. 24 September 2013.