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Issue 60 - The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

Issue 60

The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

HABITUS has always stood ahead of the rest with a dedicated Kitchen and Bathroom issue of exemplar standards. For issue 60 we have taken it up a notch with our Guest Editor the extraordinary, queen of kitchen design, Sarah-Jane Pyke of Arent&Pyke, speaking directly to Kitchen and Bathroom design with some increadable insights.

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Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
CultureGillian Serisier

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless

The exhibition, Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless which explores cargo cults, is outstanding, serious, fun, concerning and exceedingly timely.


The short meaning of a cargo cult is as a term that first appeared in 1945 to describe the cults that formed around western food and goods that seemed to miraculously drop from the sky during military presences in the South Pacific.

As a neologism ‘Cargo Cult’ smacks of other and Luger has turned this on its head with an exhibition that posits a changed perspective, stating: “As a Native contemporary artist and craftsperson of North America, I am motivated to reclaim and reframe a more accurate version of 21st Century Indigenous culture and its powerful global relevance.”

Cannupa Hanska Luger 2023,

In his exploration of these concerns, radios and antennas communicate the objects that become our desire. Think of the response to seeing or hearing advertising on the television or radio, and you get the idea. Effectively flipping the gaze back onto the western eye, Luger posits the idea that we are all in a cargo cult, madly competing for designer goods, “Devoting our lives to the ‘unnamed gods’ of consumption, wealth and fame, we emulate those who have what we want in the manner of an arcane ritual—prayerful action without practical understanding of who we are performing for, or of what we are petitioning” says Luger.

Of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota*, and European descent, the multi-disciplinary artist has created a meditative exhibition centred around a monumental radio tower made of lodgepole and white pine poles to echo cargo cult structures. Drawing on myriad cultural references, the natural timber of the structure is contrasted by bright and sharp strips of neon tape and the delicate paper feathers the artist created during a recent residency at Dieu Donné in New York.

Related: Melbourne Design Week 2024 – your guide to the highlights

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
CHL Hostile Territory.

These same feathers appear on the strange Native American bustles that line the long corridor. Resembling wings rather than traditional bustles, the forms are held slightly out from the wall to cast a surrounding finger-like shadow. Again, the bright colours of his palette are used to pick out details, while a silent speaker, perpetually broadcasts nothing from the centre of each. Through the lens of his oeuvre, Luger asks who gets to speak, who must remain silent: “Communication is the root of all ritual and technological development. How to amplify, translate, respond and receive? Whether in relation to our environment, each other, the ancestors, spirit, or the universe itself, desire and the function of speech is the same—to make contact and connect.”

There is a delicate touch to his concerns that only ripples to the surface on closer consideration. The wing shape of the bustles and silent speaker are rife with metaphor, but are also elegant and beautiful.

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
CHL Hostile Territory.

The radios and stacks of speakers are similarly camouflaged but in this case, it is with fun. These wonderful art objects are strangely alive with tails and bone handles blurring the line between communication and cult. Moreover, there is no suggestion of reality to the pieces, the insides are openly empty, the tails of bright nylon line are unplugged. This is not artifice, but rather, a prompt to consider the meaning and context of communication.

The exhibition is part of the artist’s ongoing project Future Ancestral Technologies (FAT), which Luger describes as “a methodology, a practice, and a way of future dreaming that harnesses the power of science fiction to shape collective thinking and reimagine the future on a global scale.” The work explores Indigenous futures through a lens of speculative fiction, and asks how to share the nomadic technologies of his ancestors as sustainability becomes increasingly a desperate concern.

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
Luger Speechless 2023.

Born on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in 1979, the New Mexico-based Luger has an oeuvre to delight and intrigue. “I practice empathetic response and community catharsis through craft-based social collaboration” he says. Indeed, no material, including ceramics, steel, fibre, video and repurposed materials, is not commissioned to convey his intent of communicating 21st Century Indigeneity. Nor his techniques in which his work that shifts from monumental installations to sculpture and performance are each pitched to his audience with precision. Challenging communication in particular his bold visual storytelling presents new ways of seeing our collective humanity while foregrounding an Indigenous worldview, as he explains. “Whether working with institutions, communities or with the land itself, my work is inherently social and requires engagement. I aim to lay groundwork, establish connections and mobilize action – to challenge the systemic conditions of colonialism while making space for urgent and emergent Indigenous narratives.”

Luger is currently an exhibiting artist in the Shanghai Biennale. He is also included in the 2024 Whitney Biennial, where the title, Even Better Than The Real Thing, feels purpose-built for this prodigious artist whose billboards proclaiming WE SURVIVE YOU succinctly flip the role of advertising to make his point oh so very well.

*The Mandan, Hidatsa (a Siouan people), and Arikara (also known as Sahnish, Arikaree, Ree, or Hundi) are First Nations groups of the American Great Planes primarily from what is now North Dakota. The Lakota people, also known as Teton Sioux, are of the lands now known as North and South Dakota.

To experience the Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless exhibition plus many other artworks and exhibitions, start planning your Nevada trip at travelnevada.com.

Nevada Museum of Art
nevadaart.org

Cannupa Hanska Luger
cannupahanska.com

The writer travelled to Nevada as a guest of Travel Nevada.

Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
CHL Displaced
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless
Cannupa Hanska Luger: Speechless

Next up: Artist Luke Chiswell is back At The Above in Melbourne


About the Author

Gillian Serisier

Gillian Serisier is an editor-at-large for Indesign Media Asia Pacific, where she covers all corners of design and art across the Habitus and Indesign network. Gillian has contributed to many outstanding publications, and her extensive knowledge and sharp words make for compelling storytelling.

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Issue 60 - The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

Issue 60

The Kitchen and Bathroom Issue

HABITUS has always stood ahead of the rest with a dedicated Kitchen and Bathroom issue of exemplar standards. For issue 60 we have taken it up a notch with our Guest Editor the extraordinary, queen of kitchen design, Sarah-Jane Pyke of Arent&Pyke, speaking directly to Kitchen and Bathroom design with some increadable insights.

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