Kelly Dzioba "Polychrome" (detail)

SDA Book Club: “Each/Other” reviewed by Faith Hagenhofer

Each/Other: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger edited by John P. Lukavic

Each/Other is an exhibition catalog from the show of the same title. It was on display May 23 to August 22, 2021, with contributing essays by Jami C. Powell and Namita Wiggers.

An exhibition catalog is, by design, a memento of someone’s viewing experience of a show. It offers images of the works, in part or whole, but not everything or every view of the show. If you weren’t able to see something in person, the book is a substitute, but not a complete one. For those who are lucky enough to have been in attendance, it is a reminder, a quick ticket back to the experience, a way to recall the room, the quiet, the presence of others (or not), and most importantly, the artworks. Try as it might, though, a catalog cannot give the sense of scale or the viscerality of materials in the works. I was not fortunate enough to view the Watt/Luger show, and am reliant upon this catalog for the experience.

Watt and Luger’s collaboration seems organic, a natural fit. Both are devoted to and practice handwork, craft that is evidenced in all their pieces. Both are also long time practitioners of what is sometimes called Art as Social Practice. Separately, they have involved the public in the making of many pieces. They are dependent upon others to achieve their artistic aims. The flip side of this is that regardless of personal plans these artists recognize their obligations and responsibilities to and for others. They share a sense that Art is a verb, a doing, a practice, an action. On the Denver Art Museum’s website, one image of the magnificent eponymous piece, Each/Other, shows a large wall text acknowledging and affirming viewers’ active participation. It reads “YOU ARE NOW AN ACCOMPLICE.” Both Watt and Luger are active participants in their Native American cultures. Jami Powell’s essay speaks of their work as situated “within complex webs informed by Indigenous knowledges and understandings of place, community, and material resonance…predicated on long-held understandings that art is inseparable from our lives and experiences.” (p.19)

Without a map of the exhibit I am seeing the work, through the narrative of the catalog experience, as each artist approaching the other through their own work, until the moment of collaboration. In that collaborative place is the monumental piece that is the result of Watt and Luger collaborating, also titled Each/Other (2021). Of it, they have said that the “echo of collaborative handwork bring(s) audiences into a tactile encounter with critically relevant issues of protection, shelter, reciprocity, sustenance, exchange, power, stewardship, wildness, homelessness, kinship, vulnerability, and ferocity.” Further, it asks viewers (including remote viewing, both online and through this book) to contemplate “how acts of collaboration may help heal broken bonds with the environment and with each other.” (p.76) This book celebrates a joyful outcome of the recognition that work addressing these issues is beyond the capabilities of any One of us.

–Faith Hagenhofer 

  • Publisher: Denver Art Museum (buy it here)
  • Date: July 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1945483097

If you’ve read this book, leave a comment and let us know what you think!

Do you have a recommendation for a recent fiber-related book you think should be included in SDA’s Book Club? Email SDA’s Managing Editor, Lauren Sinner, to let her know!

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