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An exhibition with Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri exploring the intersection of fame, fantasy, and issues of social justice and human rights

Values


Representation, Symbolization, and Indigeneity

A conversation with Eugene Brave Rock about indigeneity on screen and superhero stardom

Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Public culture
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Penn Social Justice & Arts Integration Initiative

Organizers

Eduardo Cadava, Aaron Levy, GK Reid

Funders

Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Tel K. Ganesan and Kyyba Kidz Foundation

Opens to public

11/15/2019

Time

6:30-8:30pm

Address

Slought
4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought is pleased to announce "Representation, Symbolization, and Indigeneity," a conversation with Eugene Brave Rock and Indrani about indigeneity on screen and superhero stardom, on November 15, 2019 from 6:30-8:30pm. The event marks the opening of the exhibit Kim Kardashian is Dead! And Other Stories, and is presented in partnership with the SP2 Social Justice and Arts Integration Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania.

Kim Kardashian is Dead! and Other Stories aims to encourage conversation about how artists, thinkers, and activists can utilize strategies of fame, fantasy, advertising, and aesthetics to encourage ethical awareness, provoke conversation, and inspire change. Among the work featured in the exhibition and that the conversation will address is a trio of photographs of Eugene Brave Rock from a photo shoot for Dressed to Kill Magazine, a high fashion publication. This was the first time there was a representation of Native American ceremonial dress in this magazine, which was significant for Brave Rock, who strives to ensure authentic representation of his heritage. The conversation will also engage his recent role as "Chief" in Wonder Woman (2017). When cast, Brave Rock requested to rework his character to remove Hollywood stereotypes and feel more authentic. Director Patty Jenkins asked him for creative input, and gave him unprecedented control. Developing a meaningful storyline, he first greets Wonder Woman in Blackfoot, introducing himself as Napi, the Blackfoot demi-god. Known as a trickster and storyteller, personifying the unpredictability of nature, according to Blackfoot mythology Napi created the Earth using mud from a turtle's mouth. Brave Rock also advised on the design of his costume and weapons. Broadening the mythological background of the Wonder Woman franchise, Napi is a superhuman character like Diana herself.

Building upon these and other experiences, Indrani and Brave Rock will explore questions of how native language is central to cultural preservation, how the representation of Native Americans and First Nations people in media can inspire youth, and the ethics and responsibilities of celebrity activism today.

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Eugene Brave Rock is a proud Blackfoot, born and raised on the Kainai (Blood) Reserve in the Rocky Mountain foothills of southern Alberta. Brave Rock acquired stunt skills as a performer in "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show" at Euro-Disney in Paris, France, and set up a stunt boot camp to train other Native American performers for the Oscar-winning film The Revenant.

When offered his greatest opportunity, to star in Wonder Woman alongside Gal Gadot, Brave Rock requested to rework his character, "Chief," to remove Hollywood stereotypes and feel more authentic, and paved the way for his transition to superhero stardom. Director Patty Jenkins asked him for creative input, and gave him unprecedented control. Developing a meaningful storyline, he first greets Wonder Woman in Blackfoot, introducing himself as Napi, the Blackfoot demi-god. Known as a trickster and storyteller, personifying the unpredictability of nature, according to Blackfoot mythology Napi created the Earth using mud from a turtle's mouth. Brave Rock also advised on the design of his costume and weapons. Broadening the mythological background of the Wonder Woman franchise, Napi is a superhuman character like Diana herself. According to Brave Rock, "I think it's opened a door to seeing Native Americans as heroes."

Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri is a multidisciplinary artist, a photographer, a social justice advocate, and a "leading director and voice for female empowerment" (Tribeca Film Festival). Believing that artists as myth-makers shape the parameters of the possible, her work explores transformation and the intersection between mythology and reality from diverse perspectives in order to inspire social change. While studying Anthropology at Princeton University, Indrani was discovered and mentored by David Bowie and Iman, who commissioned her first album art for Heathen and her directorial debut, Valentine's Day, starring Bowie. Indrani helped launch the careers of Beyonce and Lady Gaga by photographing the art for their debut albums, the cover of Dangerously in Love and The Fame Monster (Collectors Ed), respectively. She also has worked with Kate Winslet, Keanu Reeves, Kanye West, Will Smith, among many others.

"Honestly, the attention has allowed me to reach Blackfoot kids and reach children from other First Nations with a message of hope, and to encourage them to be proud warriors and follow their dreams. I'm thankful for the platform it's given me, definitely."

-- Eugene Brave Rock