Prototype for New Understanding #6
Nike athletic footwear Courtesy Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver Purchased with the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance Program and with the assistance of the E. Wallace Fund, 2001 Jungen’s most well known works are his Prototypes for New Understanding (1998-2005): prefabricated Nike Air Jordan trainers (whether they are Air Max2, Max Air Pegasus, or the VXT II cross trainer) are reconfigured into Northwest Coast Indian Masks. This metamorphosis creates a dialogue between the artists First Nations lineage, the global economy, and the object of art. Jungen offers us a contemporary bricolage: a set of what is thought to be Northwest Coast Indian masks that, rather than being intricately carved and decorated, have been produced by cutting and remolding red, white and black Nike Air Jordan trainers. The color schemes and the patterns of the long tongues, heels and tops of the shoes are the perfect medium for Jungen's carefully crafted replicas of raven, sun and wolf masks. The Prototypes slip between being a fake consumer product and an authentic native artifact, disrupting expected museological frameworks and ethnographic displays. Where are these objects from? To whom do they belong? How should they be categorized? Where should they be displayed?