washington-dc

Brian Jungen

National Museum of the American Indian

In a gallery adjacent to Canadian artist Brian Jungen’s survey “Strange Comfort” is a show called simply “Our Lives.” In this exhibition, to quote the introductory text, “members of eight communities describe how they work to remain Native in an ever-changing world”—a powerful condensation of the museum’s charter. The National Museum of the American Indian recognizes expressions of native cultures not as strictly historical phenomena, preserved in and understood through dusty artifacts and aging fables, but rather as mutable and alive, with the potential for being creatively perpetuated in contemporary life. Jungen’s work, as demonstrated by this exhibition, evidences a related commitment.

The literature on Jungen, whose mother is a member of the Dunne-za First Nation of Alberta and British Columbia and whose father is of European stock, invariably notes that the artist is principally

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