Petroglyphs in Motion

James Luna

A Space Main Gallery

October 19 – November 12, 2005

Copresented by: imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

James Luna will give a performative lecture during the opening reception on Friday, October 21 between 7-9 PM.

A Space Gallery is pleased to present internationally renowned performance and multimedia artist James Luna in conjunction with the 2005 imagineNATIVE film + media arts festival (October 19-23). A resident of the La Jolla Reservation in California, James Luna (Luiseno) draws on the daily realities of reservation life in his work, utilizing satire, pop culture and irony to address the serious social issues affecting First Nations peoples in the Americas.

In the video and photographs that make up Petroglyphs in Motion (commissioned by Site Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2000), the artist presents a spectrum of characters ranging from shaman to leather man to cell-phone-wielding deal-maker in this performance-based installation. Using the petroglyph as a starting point, Luna present a non-linear narrative of the Native American man, exposing some of the stereotypes and challenges he continues to face in the modern world. Uniting the “prehistoric” with the present, Luna rejects the Western version of history that excludes and undermines Native people and artists, and continues to deny their evolution. In bringing these static figures, seemingly frozen in time, into motion and combining them with contemporary culture, Luna brings the history of Native peoples out of the museum and off of the rocks, into the present, marking not only presence (in time and place), but also reclaiming ownership of the past, present, and future. In the documented performance that takes his audience from laughter one minute to discomfort in the next, Luna is unafraid to confront the realities of Native life, particularly reservation life, in all its complexities.


James Luna is internationally recognized for his installation and performance art. A Puyokawichum (Luiseno) Indian and a resident of California’s La Jolla Indian Reservation, Luna creates his work for ‘a community of Indian tribes.’ He has received wide acclaim for his deconstruction of the stereotypes surrounding notions of Indian identity. His work confronts and challenges commonly held views of American Indians, museums, art, and life. He does this with irony, humour, sorrow, and a strong sense of storytelling in motion. Luna’s performances have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the National Gallery of Canada, San Francisco’s Mexican Museum, and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. He represented the National Museum of the American Indian at the 2005 Venice Biennale.