Terrance Houle: Urban Indian Series (2004),
Born December 9, 1975, in Calgary. Lives and works in Calgary. In a practice that ranges from performance to photography to film and video works, Blackfoot artist Terrance Houle remakes the troubled history of colonialism and First Nations identity with a roguish wit and punk-rock edge. His strategy matches self-deprecating humour with an uneasy undertone; the results cut away at both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal notions of an urban Indian status quo. In his Urban Indian Series (2004), Houle is pictured grocery shopping, working in an office cubicle and riding public transit—all in elaborate powwow regalia.
In the performance video Friend or Foe (2010–11), he plays off cultural and historical gaps in communication while dressed in a loincloth and communicating by sign language.
Contemporary Art Week!
Dancing in the Dragon Jaws.
Dancing in the Dragons Jaws is Los Angeles-based photographer Thomas Alleman’s profound and nuanced body of work taken of San Francisco’s broader gay community during the mid-1980s. Working as a newspaper photographer for The Sentinel at the time, he was given the time and liberty that all sociopolitical relevant issues—including those of the present day—deserve. After shelving this work for over a decade, Alleman went back in 2009 to uncover and scan images that he’d previously overlooked.
Intermixed with images of galas, glitter, and glam are also images that show the severity of the struggle facing San Francisco’s gay community in the mid-80s. Alleman recalls, “We reported and photographed a blizzard of protests and demonstrations, vigils and marches and sit-ins, as the community struggled for social and political recognition of the crisis. But not every drumbeat was martial, of course. Often it was syncopated and disco-y, and I watched countless partiers dance to it with a shimmy and a bounce, and with life-affirming joy. While many of the pictures demonstrate a community in lamentation, many others are about anger and resolve, and most are about love and life. And disco and drag.”
Because of this range in depiction, because of the patience shown for the fight, because of the far-reaching concern shown for one another—whether dressed in a suit or in drag—Alleman shows us a human issue, not just an LGBT one. Therein lies this collection’s heart. Furthermore, Alleman reminds us of “that moment in our social history—so long ago, and so very recent—when the first wave of the AIDS epidemic crashed onto one of our country’s most vibrant neighborhoods. And, while that tribe convulsed with well-earned fear, heartbreak and anger, some still found the courage and the will to celebrate the dream of life they’d come to San Francisco for, and they danced in the dragon’s jaws.”