Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation
“Now That We Are Christians We Dance for Ceremony”: James Luna, Performing Props, and Sacred Space
2017. "“Now That We Are Christians We Dance for Ceremony”: James Luna, Performing Props, and Sacred Space", Art for an Undivided Earth: The American Indian Movement Generation, Jessica L. Horton
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This chapter introduces the concept of an undivided earth through Emendatio, James Luna’s multimedia exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Luna reconstituted the archive of Pablo Tac (1822–41), a Quechnajuisom scholar who wrote the first dictionary and history of his people under missionary rule in New Spain while studying for the priesthood in Rome. Luna embedded Tac’s words in a multisensory chapel and danced for four days in a Venetian courtyard, demonstrating how colonial conversions filled European language, objects, and spaces with indigenous meanings. In contrast to prevailing accounts of the archival impulse in contemporary art, Horton emphasizes fluid exchanges between human bodies and sensuous objects—what she calls “performing props”—throughout Luna’s performances and installations. She focuses in particular on woven baskets, which reintegrate a colonial binary of “archive and repertoire” and related Christian dogma separating “spirit and letter” into an expansive framework of undivided earth.