Artist James Luna’s work Artifact Piece (1985) posited himself as an anthropological and art object.
Wearing a loin cloth and situated within a display case, the artist was “on view” at the Museum of Man in San Diego. Descriptive panels outlined his performance, and vistors would encounter the artist as though he were a typical display.
He used himself in this performance, to critique the particularly Western approach to displaying Native American artifacts and culture, and the inherent tendency to view such objects as relics of an extinct culture.
Postcolonial cultures persist to understand their aboriginal populations as exotic. In this performance, Luna points to the ridiculousness of such approaches, and perhaps forces viewers to re-consider how they understand aboriginal cultures.