Round Up

November 21, 2010 - 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Film Showing and Artist Talk with Terry Mendoza

Torry's image

Interdisciplinary media artist Torry Mendoza’s work centers on the re-appropriation and deconstruction of Native identity in popular culture. Through digital editing, re-presentations and satirical juxtapositions, Mendoza challenges dominant society’s portrayal of Native Americans in order to call attention to the accepted perceptions of “Indigeneity.” Mendoza’s work re-examines a collection of subjects drawn from mass media placing personas such as the “Crying Indian” (portrayed by Iron Eyes Cody in the famous Keep America Beautiful campaign) within a conceptually centered sociopolitical context.

Torry Mendoza’s Round Up presents a series of a half dozen or so short video works of less than 10 minutes each, in which he confronts, analyzes and excoriates the “The Hollywood Indian,” and the feelings and attitudes that have seeped into the mainstream collective consciousness as a result. In “Kemosabe Version 1.0” he remixes conversational snippets between the Lone Ranger and Tonto (from the television series), against a driving techno beat background. He scrutinizes the duo’s relationship by remixing a conversation between the two, revealing a master and servant disposition similar to the disparate relationships assumed by the nation-state with Native nations.

In “Stupid Fucking White Men” he ridicules Kevin Costner’s wannabe Indian persona in the film, Dances With Wolves, by remixing short clips from Costner’s pseudo-Indian dance around a bonfire. The result is hilarious, but also deeply, bitterly angry. In Red Man and Savages, Mendoza concatenates short clips from Hollywood films in which white men and women played caricatures of Indian parts, stars such as Charles Bronson, Jack Palance, Burt Lancaster, Lee Van Cleef. The stereotypes are patently ridiculous now, but they weren’t then. The shorts are all aimed to illustrate Hollywood’s history of degrading stereotypes and outright hostility toward Native Americans (think John Wayne in The Searchers). It is a compelling and moving series of short films that should not be missed!

Torry Mendoza is a graduate of the film school at Syracuse University. Round Up is an interdisciplinary exhibit whose original curator is Jenny Western (Urban Shaman Gallery, Winnipeg, MB, Canada) and newest exhibit content curator is Ryan Rice (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM).