I Like America Too.

 

This famous photograph of a Beuy's action was my only relationship to the piece it stands for. I had actively sought out the actual video, but when I was younger, it was far from being assessable. The most committed artist I have had conversations with also had never seen the video of this work. I questioned how such an important document of our artistic heritage could be reduced to two or three black and white photographs. This particular Beuys action refers to many things, but the one that always struck me as the most interesting was his relationship with the Coyote. Beuys saw the debasement of the coyote as a symbol of the damage done by white men to the American continent and its native cultures. My grandmother was a Cree Indian, and in this culture, the coyote the spirit of disorder, an enemy of boundaries, and a trickster of sorts. With this in mind, I walked into an exhibition at the Walker Museum in Minneapolis and stole the Beuys video from the Museum. I walked into the show with a video camera and bootlegged or re-copied it and hence created copyright disorder, and put a form of distribution into my own hands. Documented in the film are my exploits of the act of recording the video. The bad bootlegged copy recorded the movements of my person at this moment, in turn emphasizing my own “action” and recording it at the same time as Beuys’s original one on film. Although this was an attempt to steal back Native American culture, I am also part European descent confusing the cultural issue more, which allows for a more exact contemporary picture of a culture that has been continual influences by western approaches. Both actions, the original Beuys and my act of liberation, now live as one document.

WD

© 2019 by Wendy DesChene

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