We mourn the loss of our beloved friend and Vice President of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art Board of Trustees, Margaret Rose Vendryes, Ph.D.

Essays

THE ARCHIVE: Remote Intimacies, issue 69

Our latest issue of The Archive (69) reflects on the recurrent virtual performance series, Remote Intimacies. Artists were invited to explore how to sustain intimacy and commune across distances in the highly mediated time of the early pandemic. The issue also includes a look at performance works by participants in our Queer Theatre and Performance Residency, and a deep rumination on our first in-person performance of 2021, Carlos Martiel's Pink Death.
The series Remote Intimacies was co-commissioned by the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art and ONE Archives at University of Southern California Libraries.

Take a sneak peek at the issue here and pick one up at the Museum! And below, please find an online-only contribution by Regan de Loggans on the work of Dayna Danger.

Remote Intimacies: Process of Care
Text by Regan de Loggans

What is a labor of love? What intimacies do we participate in as Indigiqueer folx that are deemed laborious and how do they inherently reflect our positionality in our communities? As Indigiqueer folx, we often balance our autonomy and our commitment to community in ways that are reflective of our own desires and needs; we find comfort in the reclamation of our bodies through community tasks. The colonial gaze has so often bastardized, criminalized, or fetishized our bodies and roles, and it is through processes of care and cultural knowledge that we usurp that oppression. Danger’s work is reflective of that commitment to community and self via its invitation to submerge the viewer in the intimate activity of hide tanning, an ancestral skill passed down through community care and skillshare.

The video opens with Danger, their hand center-frame, moving a moose leg in a large pot soaking it for processing. We are immediately invited to partake in the intimate act of storytelling while remaining centered in our experience as the viewer. Their hands move from pot to butchering table to pot, a system of care being implemented before our eyes. Danger’s hands guide us through the beauty of ancestral knowledge. This choice is not haphazard; rather, it offers the audience a direct line of sight to witness an act of pedagogy. We are being taught a process of care.

As in so many of Danger’s works, here the audience is in the position of learning. The video, which successfully portrays a community event, allows us to feel and see the tenderness and realness of Danger’s labor., Even though we can only see their hands, the audio captures the voices of the many teachers in the room. Danger’s experience is communal, informed by those around them, and yet implemented individually. I interpret this as an expression of the harmony between community and the autonomous self that so many of us, as Queer Indigenous people, seek. his continuous process of care within community is central to Danger’s work, whether it’s through the lens of kink and BDSM or, as in this short film, through the resurgence of cultural knowledge We are ever present to the tenderness and care that Danger puts into the butchering of the moose leg; the tenderness and care of community support we hear in the background is the same tenderness and care reflected in Danger’s greater body of work.

Navigating the video’s lo-fi audio and image creates a dissociated view of the event. We simultaneously see and hear bubbling water, sandwiched between disembodied laughter, while also digesting the imagery of butchering, all of which coalesces in an unattainable feast for those hungry for a clear explanation of what is happening. The lack of a step-by-step description of the process is both intriguing and, arguably, frustrating. But I interpret this as a challenge to embrace decolonial praxis: Danger is withholding while sharing, reminding the viewer that not all knowledge is for equitable consumption. In fact, silent protocol so largely defines how we move through spaces. I associate the idea that not all audio or visual can be fully interpreted with protection. Danger’s poignant choice to engage the audience without divulging all the steps in the hide tanning process is a spell cast for protection against the cultural appropriations our Indigenous knowledge has so often been subjected to: given a brief glimpse into the intimacies of animal butchering, an inherently communal event, we are so in awe and mesmerized, almost hypnotized, by what we see that we cannot fully consume the teachings being shared. We can hear children playing and aunties cackling over dirty jokes in the background, all the while only viewing Danger’s hands through the multiple moments of processing. The seeming disconnection between what we hear and what we see allows us to experience an intimate community event while maintaining the anonymity of its participants preserving ancestral knowledge through shielding.
The magic of protocols of respect is intricately interconnected with the roles of Indigiqueer in community; we are bound and yet ungovernable. We usurp protocol to explore our truths while remaining deeply rooted in community care. What may seem contradictory to some is an embraced view within Indigiqueer spaces. We are all carving our own paths, remaining diligent and vigilant and ruthless about our importance and positionality, yet we are also so very committed to maintaining Indigenous thrivance through reclamation. We, as Indigiqueer people, gravitate to spaces that not only challenge our knowledge but also invite processes of care into the community. Whether on a frontline or at a cultural camp, we find solace in spaces that welcome our autonomy while honoring our inherent commitments to community thrivance. These processes of care—processes passed down in spite of genocide—are dialogues with our pasts and futures. Danger reminds us that we can have it all.

Regan de Loggans (they/themme) is an Indigiqueer agitator, art historian, curator, and educator based in Brooklyn on Canarsee land.Their work relates to decolonizing, Indigenizing, and queering institutions and curatorial practices. They are member of the Indigenous Kinship Collective: NYC.


Featured Images: Dayna Danger, Moose Hoofin' (film still), 2021, 15:00 min. Created at Buckskin Babes Hide Tanning Camp (Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, Canada). Commissioned by The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art (New York, NY) and ONE Archives at the University of Southern California Libraries (Los Angeles, CA) for Remote Intimacies. Courtesy the artist.