Hills Snyder entered the multiple spaces of Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric in daylight, but left in a twilight state.
Jeffrey Gibson: The Body Electric
May 6–September 11, 2022
SITE Santa Fe
Red Moon, Desert Sky, Red Sunset (2021) anchors the exhibition from its center, occupying a large, completely black and darkened space. Three monolithic forms hover above purple-blue plinths of slightly larger perimeter dimensions, suggesting protected space. Made of thousands of strands of shawl fringe, they are ceiling-suspended, but gravity seems to be in reverse—they float with an inviting and majestic presence, mutely offering something oracular.
THE LAND IS SPEAKING I ARE YOU LISTENING? (2022) asks its question in fifteen-inch semaphore-like letters as you enter Jeffrey Gibson’s (Mississippi Choctaw/Cherokee) survey, The Body Electric, defining a moment and a movement. Embedded in the stacked horizons of the billboard-sized mural in the entry of SITE Santa Fe, the statement and question beckon a return to the part of the day when vista gazing happens—a moment of surrender and smallness when something new might be heard or something distant may be seen.
Stand Your Ground (2019), a suspended mixed-media diptych, celebrates activism and points to the work of Utah Diné Bikéyah and their efforts to protect Bears Ears National Monument. A poignant phrase of subtle indictment lurks within the multi-colored folds: “someone’s great is gone.”
She Never Dances Alone (2020), inspired by the women who danced to defend Standing Rock, is a nine-channel video in which Eastern-Shoshone/Northern-Arapaho performer, Sarah Ortegon, accompanied by the rave-worthy A Tribe Called Red, dances with dignity and power toward a transformation into multiple jingle dress dancers who proliferate into rows of ever tinier figures, as if performing in fractal time, though the resistance they represent is actual and happening in the here and now. The title itself suggests community.
I entered the nine spaces of The Body Electric in daylight, but left in a twilight state, gratefully reveling in cascading episodes, each ever higher, each ever deeper. And more: a central space holds Gibson’s film A Warm Darkness (2022), waiting to take you there.