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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

James Luna: Take a Picture with a Real Indian

Until Online
Garth Greenan Gallery / New York / Art

On April 2, 1991, James Luna stood in the Whitney Museum of American Art, the downtown branch at the Federal Reserve Plaza, dressed in Native American clothing. “Take a picture with a real Indian,” he shouted. Embarrassed yet amused, the audience gathered around, not quite knowing how to react. Luna, who died in 2018, described this performance piece as a mutual humiliation: by posing as a tourist attraction he was pointing up the simultaneous romanticizing and commodification of Native American culture, the way America turns his people into a tourist attraction. Almost 30 years later, this online exhibition displays photographs of that day. —E.C.

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