Back by Popular Demand, 2012
Site-specific performance presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox, takes place in the lobby on Saturday, June 23 at 5:15pm
Back by Popular Demand explores the cultural misrepresentation of First Peoples in pop culture, pointedly asking why Indians are not considered part of "the mainstream" and addressing what it means to be "Indian" in a contemporary North American society that trivializes Indigenous peoples as romantic stereotypes. In this fast-paced performance, artist James Luna adopts the personae of famous heroes and protagonists from throughout cinematic history—those "objects" of filmic desire and media power that are so often "white", never "Indian"–and Indigenizes them.
The vignettes are in the "classic Luna style", mixing irony, biting humour and social significance. As in all of Luna's work, with Back by Popular Demand Luna confronts audiences with questions about the nature of cultural identity, the tensions of race "privilege", and their own misconceived notions of what it is to be "Indian".
Photograph of James Luna, courtesy of the artist