[-empyre-] CCA Duration Comment from week 2
Jolene K. Rickard
jkr33 at cornell.edu
Wed Nov 21 00:11:58 AEDT 2018
Apologies that this is overlapping with week 3, as it relates to my earlier posts for CCA Duration week 2.
Like Renate, the early snow interrupted our movement and magnified our insistence on defying what the earth is telling us. I will get to the Cayuga artists in a moment, but I just wanted to share an experience over the past few days. Hopi filmmaker, Victor Masayesva was invited to Cornell to screen his new work, WAAKI / Sanctuary.
As expected his flights were canceled and he missed his screening but made it in to share a dinner. He reflected on the fact that when the snow flies, it’s the time when the Hopi are supposed to be quiet, not causing too much vibration in the world and resting. He knew he defied his own teaching by joining us in Ithaca, and spent the past three days in airports and bad hotel rooms. Indigenous peoples globally all have these insights about their relationship to place, but we aren’t always observing these teachings. In the United States, November is “Native American Heritage,” and most Indigenous peoples in North America ignore it or politely decline invitations to participate in Thanksgiving school presentations. PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) aired ‘Native Americas’ with the visual representation of deep geology and petroglyphs as a core theme in the series. As rich as these observations are, without, a critical connection to the conditions of contemporary Indigenous peoples, the geological focus continues to construct these spaces as abandoned and available for settlement-occupation. This on-going colonial gaze assigns the ‘ownership’ of the geological past to science, even the word geological, reinforces this authority. The relationship of the Cayuga artists to the theme of the biennale will undoubtedly question a number of the assumed ‘authorities’ in play in their homeland. The Cayuga dispossession and return is an emblematic modern experience in dialogue with migrant and refugee populations globally. But, their insistence on maintaining a ‘storied’ memory of the land will be at the center of their work. Collectively, the ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquoian) Confederacy, of which the Cayuga are a member nation, has a relationship to this particular land that is intricately entwined with their origin story. Environmentalists describe the ecological space as a biome, but this does not accurately represent the relationship of the Cayuga to this place. The terms, ‘biome, environment, nature’ do not automatically map it as a co-evolved peopled and nature space. The collaborative process with Cayuga knowledge holders; linguists, artists, and political and cultural leaders will contemplate these issues. Their ideas will guide the physically artistic gesture in the spring of 2019 as the contribution to the CCA Biennale: Passage, Persistence, Survival – or a duration. It is important to acknowledge that this is the first time a broad gathering and dialogue of Cayuga artists and knowledge keepers will respond to their homeland since their dispossession in 1779.
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