Kade Twist: To Keep a Fire
February 4 through April 16, 2023
Saturday, February 4 from 7-10pm
To Keep a Fire presents five new works that poke a stick at the unresolved tensions between market-driven systems, consumerism, and American Indian cultural self-determination.
The exhibition is a fragmented ceremonial ground, of sorts, comprised of sculpture, video, sound, smell, and text that present unexpected histories, desires, experiences, sequences, and artifacts of contemporary colonization and neoliberal violence.
Atliloidohi / ᎠᏟᎶᎢᏙᎯ (translation: civil engineer) is a mixed-media sculpture that functions as an improvised engine hoist (constructed with propane tanks, cinderblocks, ladders, a single wood beam, come along and tow strap) suspends a car engine four feet above the gallery floor. The work — which is based on a DIY mechanic’s creation captured by a grainy photo that has been circulating around various Facebook groups for the past year — is a monument to human ingenuity, pragmatism, muscle, and speed; and a precarious, aspirational vision of survivance and human will in the face of globalism, speed and violence.
Atsilv / ᎠᏥᎸ (translation: fire) is a multichannel video sculpture with sound that embodies the Cherokee cultural and spiritual values associated with keeping a fire. However, in this instance, these values are complicated by histories of colonial violence, land squatting, political subjugation, and resentment. The land once held in common, is now held in private, with individually owned homes standing on each plot. The fire here is an emotionally troubled vision of reclamation. Clearly, burning down colonizer homes is not an appropriate endeavor of decolonization, and it does not reflect Cherokee cultural values. Instead, it is intended to interrogate the complexities, and often contradictory aspirations, inherent within contemporary indigenous decolonization strategies and practices.
Your Scent Is Still Here is a sculptural smell work comprised of a trough (6’ x 2’ x 1’) filled with 40 gallons of Fabuloso. The household cleaner, which originated in 1980 Venezuela, has become the most popular household cleaning product in the Western Hemisphere. Its unmistakable and ubiquitous scent is evidence of our Hemispherical interconnectedness and shared perception of how a clean surface should smell in the Americas. It is interesting to note that this particular scent also functions as a signifier of racial, cultural, political and economic chauvinisms, particularly in the USA and Canada, where Fabuloso is often mocked and dismissed as the cleaning product of black, brown and indigenous lower classes.
Load-Bearing Prayers is a sculptural text work that exists inside of a load-bearing gallery wall. For this work, a seven-sided polygon, or heptagon, is sanded 1/8 inch into the drywall’s gypsum. The work is approximately seven feet tall, rising one foot above the gallery floor with lines approximately four inches wide, the width of a belt sander. The form of the work, the heptagon, is significant in that it symbolizes and communicates how Cherokee people configure worldviews within public and private spaces. Each of the seven sides of the heptagon represents one of our seven clans, seven fires, seven directions, and seven peoples of the earth.
The artist sees this work as a graphic score, or conceptual map, for a future socially engaged piece that will develop at Grand Central Art Center over the course of 2023 and 2024. The work involves organizing a BIPOC recovery group for people of diverse backgrounds to share knowledge and emotional, spiritual, and experiential support for each other as racialized peoples in a Nation defined by neoliberal, Judeo-Christian Western scientific worldviews. The group collaboration will result in an 8-hour durational performance of being a racialized human in dialogue with other racialized humans who have shared and divergent interests, goals, identities, and histories of continuity, change, and survival.
Parachutes Are Not Sovereigns is a single channel video with sound. The work juxtaposes video of parachute failure with prayers in indigenous languages. It is a common practice for tribal people to pray not just for the best interests of family and friends, but also for the best interests of all interconnected beings (humans, animals, insects, flora, fauna, air, land, water, celestial bodies, etc., even inanimate objects). We even pray for our colonizers! Speaking of which, skydiving is a widely held “bucket-list” endeavor of affluent colonizers in the USA and Canada. In many ways it’s a neoliberal pastime to embrace the promises of freedom while demonstrating status, and courage and the capacity to overcome the laws of physics. Every time a White person jumps from a plane, that person also jumps, inadvertently, into the prayers of thousands of indigenous people. However, parachutes and prayers do seem to fail us all from time to time.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kade L. Twist is an interdisciplinary artist working with video, sound, interactive media, text and installation environments. Twist’s work combines re-imagined tribal stories with geopolitical narratives to examine the unresolved tensions between market-driven systems, consumerism, and American Indian cultural self-determination. Mr. Twist is a co-founder of Postcommodity, an interdisciplinary artist collective. With his individual work and the collective Postcommodity, Twist has exhibited work nationally and internationally. In 2017 Postcommodity was included in both the 2017 Whitney Biennial and documenta 14. Mr. Twist is a US Artist Klein Fellow for Visual Arts, and Postcommodity have been the recipients of grants from the Harpo Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Art Matters, Creative Capital and the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Postcommodity are 2017/2018 Ford Foundation Art and Social Change Fellows.
The artist has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including: Contour the 5th Biennial of the Moving Image in Mechelen, BE; Nuit Blanche, Toronto, CA; 18th Biennale of Sydney in Sydney, AUS; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Scottsdale, AZ; 2017 Whitney Biennial, New York, NY; Art in General, New York, NY; documenta14, Athens, GR and Kassel, DE; Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, AZ; and through Postcommodity’s historic land art installation Repellent Fence at the U.S./Mexico border near Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, SON.