Art That Moves

Art That Moves:

Images Courtesy of the Artists

Although Tsu Heidei Shugaxtutaan is a recording, every time that it plays in a gallery it is performed anew. The lights go up, the music begins and the dancer responds. As a time-based media work it is also ephemeral. It doesn’t exist as a physical object but lives as a collection of data on a drive, waiting to be awoken and performed for an audience. Without electricity or an observer, it ceases to exist. In this sense, it shares an affinity with the performative nature of storytelling, ceremony and performance that existed in Native communities long before art galleries or museums attempted to preserve the material culture of North America. Each work in Transformer is both participatory and performative, requiring us as visitors in the physical space to truly understand and encounter the work. By the transformation of electricity into art, each of these artists propels us forward in our thinking about what Native art is and what it can be.

Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo) is an associate curator at the National Museum of the American Indian – New York.