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‘Ancestral Cartographic Rituals’ at Stanford

James Luna and Denise Uyehara (Photo by Cait Ni Siomon)

PALO ALTO — The Stanford Department of Art and Art History presents “Ancestsral Cartographic Rituals,” a work-in-progress by James Luna and Denise Uyehara, on Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Oshman Hall, McMurty Building 355 Roth Way on the Stanford campus.

What happens when Indigenous artists test their DNA? How do their findings confirm, authenticate, or contradict traditional creation stories? In this new interdisciplinary work, two award-winning performance artists investigate “cultural authenticity,” as it relates to Pacific Rim, evolution and migration, and the here and now.

“Ancestral Cartographic Rituals” responds indirectly to current-day tribal DNA testing, incorporating live performance, video and original music that interweave the past and present, autobiography and cultural identity, with poignancy and humor. DNA results point to Native culture originating from Central Asia, which contradicts traditional creation stories and mainstream thought. The two artists confront and grapple with these contradictions, and seek new narratives that inform who they are.

Luna is an internationally recognized multimedia and performance artist of Pooyoukitchum, Ipi, and Mexican American descent. A recent Guggenheim Fellow, his installations and performance artworks address social themes from his perspective as a citizen of a Native nation on racially charged global issues. He was commissioned by the Smithsonian Institution for the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 to create a large-scale multimedia installation titled “Emendatio.”

Uyehara is an internationally presented performance artist and writer of Okinawan and Japanese decent. She is interested in what marks our bodies as we cross borders of identity. She was a lead artist on the “Shooting Columbus” project (with support from MAP and NET/TEN), which explores how life would be different if settlers had never come to the Americas. Her earlier works examine at the U.S. occupation in Okinawa, and the complexity of identity, memory and citizenship.

Free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Visitor parking is free after 4 p.m. on weekdays, except by the oval. Alternatively, take the Caltrain to Palo Alto Transit Center and hop on the free Stanford Marguerite Shuttle.

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