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Cannupa Hanska Luger in “Friends & Strangers”

Descriptive audio version available here.

Donning futuristic regalia adorned with clanging bells and protective padding, artist Cannupa Hanska Luger prepares to shoot a video for his multimedia project Future Ancestral Technology (2018–ongoing). Luger uses his role as an artist to try to effect change and chart a path to a future where Indigenous people and their rights are respected, we live in greater harmony with our planet, and the myth of the individual is abolished. “Today we celebrate individuals, we celebrate genius, but it’s not sustainable,” says the artist. “We are dependent, not just on each other but our relationships to the environment and other species.” In Future Ancestral Technologies, Luger engages science fiction’s aesthetics and imaginative possibilities to project Indigenous culture and identity into the distant future. To do this, the artist repurposes the detritus of contemporary life to create regalia, sculptures, photographs, and performances. 

In 2016, during conflicts over the Dakota Access Pipeline, Luger began his Mirror Shield Project. The artist designed mirrored shields, posted a tutorial online calling for people to produce their own, and brought them to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota as an artwork, where they could be used to reflect the dehumanizing gear of the police back at them. Luger frequently works collaboratively toward socially concerned aims, as in his ongoing project Counting Coup. In the project, which aims to rehumanize abstract data points, Luger calls for volunteers and hosts workshops to shape clay beads that are fired and used in sculptures. Every One (2018), a work within Counting Coup, uses 4,000 beads to reflect the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women noted in a 2016 report by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. At Colgate University, the artist leads a workshop where community members work to shape 20,000 beads, one for each of the remaining plains bison. Beside the artist is his family: his wife and studio manager, Ginger Dunnill, and his two sons, ‘io and Tsesa. The family goes everywhere together, including exhibitions and residencies, and are integral to his life and his practice as an artist. Working alongside him in the studio, giving him direction during performances and video shoots, or loading works in and out of cars, the family demonstrates that no artist truly works alone. “The truth of our daily lives life is one of integration,” says Luger. “That’s how we survive the future.”

More information and credits


Executive Producer: Tina Kukielski. Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Chiemi Karasawa. Editors: Mary Ann Toman, Lynn True. Cinematography: Shaandiin Tome, David Yim. Archival Producer: Leah Ford. Associate Producer: Andrea Chung. Assistant Curator: Jurrell Lewis. Design & Animation: Ryan Carl, Nikita Iziev. Composer: Andrew Orkin. Additional Photography: Gabe Fermin, Luke Fitch, Luke Geissbuhler, LeRoy Grafe, Clark Ivers, Karen Rodriguez, Jeb Stewart, Michael Workman. Assistant Camera: Forrest Goodluck. Location Sound: Tarcisio Longobardi, William Sarokin, Brian Whitlock. Advising Producer: Ian Forster. 

Additional Art21 Staff: Lauren Barnett, Hannah Degarmo, Lolita Fierro, Joe Fusaro, Molaundo Jones, Emma Nordin, Anna Pruett, Jessica Svenson, Noor Tamari, Nora Wimmer.

Video Post-Production Services: Cut + Measure. Video Post-Production Producer: Alex Laviola. Colorist: Chris Ramey. Online & Conform: David Gauff. Additional Video Editors: Addison Post, Adam Varca. Additional Animation: Andy Cahill. Audio Post-Production Sound Services: Konsonant Post. Re-Recording Mixer: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Sound Editor: Ben Kruse. Assistant Editors: Ellen Askey, Stephanie Cen, Michelle Hanks. Additional Research: Susan Thompson. Station Relations: De Shields Associates. Legal Counsel: Franklin Weinrib Rudell + Vassallo.

Interns: Stephanie Ades, Sekou Cherif, Yeon Cho, Michaela Esteban, Emma Flood, Amber He, Emma Kanne, Carina Martinez, Renee Rienecker, James Santiago, Dani Wieder. 

Artwork Courtesy: Cannupa Hanska Luger, Garth Greenan Gallery.

Archival Materials: Justin Deegan, NewsHour Productions LLC, Kathy Elkwoman Whitman, Rob Wilson.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees; Archie Bray Foundation; Dominic Banghart; Matthew Betlej; Laura Coxson; Ginger Dunnill; Jacques Hipplewith; Niki Hunt; ‘io Kahoku Luger; Tsesa Tsoki Luger; Lyndon McCray; Media Mavens; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Sam Nichols; Ocatillo; Hugh O’Rouke; Ryan Pattie; Picker Art Gallery; Colgate University; Tom Ragan; Roscoe; Rebecca Schear; Mohammad Shaikh; The Studio at WESST, Albuquerque; Natasha Sweeten; Steven Young Lee; Nick West.

Major underwriting for Season 11 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Lambent Foundation, The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Toby Devan Lewis, Robert Lehman Foundation, and Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman.

Series Creators: Susan Dowling and Susan Sollins.

©2023 Art21, Inc.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Cannupa Hanska Luger

Cannupa Hanska Luger was born in 1979 on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota and currently lives and works in Glorieta, New Mexico. In 2011, Luger graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with a BFA. Spanning performance, sculpture, and video, the artist’s practice engages elements of Indigenous history and culture to simultaneously address present-day grievances and sources of trauma while projecting that culture into the distant future. Through his work, Luger aims to call attention to the harmful ideologies and practices that support genocide, destroy our environment, and distort our sense of self and community.

We are dependent not just on each other, but on our relationships to the environment and other species.”

Cannupa Hanska Luger

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