Aye Few Clamored
An anagram and extension of WE’RE MADE OF CLAY, AYE FEW CLAMORED retraces the migrations and colonizations of Native Americans on the Colorado Plateau. Spurred by the Trump Administration issuing oil fracking leases around Chaco Canyon, Stephen returns to the American Southwest to seek and understand the people of the plateau, the people whose land he had felt a connection to for 20 years.
Many people don’t know or care about Chaco Canyon because it is not a tourist-friendly spot; yet is a complex larger than Macchu Picchu, older than the Aztecs and Incas, and its ancient ruins and roads extend beyond its current park boundaries – occupying an area twice the size of Ohio. Until WE’RE MADE OF CLAY, Stephen had steered clear of Native American sites in his travels due to discomfort with the prevalent Whitesplaining of Native American history, and intrusion on sacred sites by making them leisure destinations that were John Muir’s ideal of landscape devoid of people (especially native americans).
Conceived & Created by: STEPHEN CHEN | Duration: Aug 30 – Sep 08, 2018
Recontextualizing a British aria as weaving a Dreamcatcher to evoke the Puebloan myth of Spider Grandmother, as well as the contemporary reality of subsuming culture for tourists from historical and contemporary segregation. The dreamcatcher itself is a site of colonization, from DIY kits (like the one used to make the dreamcatcher in the video) to “Boho-style” chic. Despite the abundance and association of “Indian-made” dreamcatchers in Southwest shops, they are not part of Puebloan but Ojibwe culture. Yet dreamcatchers persist because they are recognizably “Indian” to most people, due to centuries-old colonizing narratives that created those stereotypes.
In reframing a country ballad from guitar accompaniment to a “native”-inspired beat, it questions the mythos of the cowboy in the American West and narrative – how that is constructed from land previously settled by Native Americans, as well as their role in plundering Native American artifacts (such as Mesa Verde, and Chaco Canyon)
The famous theme is turned into a call answered by Native American flute in an attempt to recover what European sensibilities have co-opted, just as these Native American landscapes have been co-opted for predominantly well-to-do White tourists and exclude the Native Americans.