MEMORY AND FUTURITY IN YAANGNADecember 18, 2020
MEMORY AND FUTURITY IN YAANGNA
In July 2020, the Department of Arts and Culture put out a call for for artists, in collaboration with the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, to create a temporary artwork or program in response to the November 2018 removal of the Columbus Statue at Grand Park, downtown Los Angeles. Two projects were selected: a virtual engagement program by the Puvungna Collective and temporary art installation by Mercedes Dorame.
VIRTUAL ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM BY THE PUVUNGNA COLLECTIVE: MEMORY IS IN THE PRESENT
Memory is in the Present… is a collaboration between Cindi Alvitre, Carly Lake, and Scott Wilson. It reflects the convergence of a Tongva storyteller, an illustrator, and a cultural anthropologist, who have come together to tell the Puvuu’nga creation narrative accurately, and in a way that honors the culture from which it originates. The resulting two projects—a traditional picture book and a virtual reality film—illuminate this story in a way that is transformative and ties people back to this place and this moment.
The Puvungna Collective is comprised of Cindi Alvitre, Carly Lake, and Scott Wilson. In this artistic collaboration Alvitre holds the role of Tongva storyteller, Lake is the visual artist, and Wilson is the cultural anthropologist with a history of developing virtual reality films. On the campus of Cal State University Long Beach, the collaboration began with Alvitre and Lake meeting and creating the picture book Waa’aka’: The Bird Who Fell in Love with the Sun. Written by Alvitre and illustrated by Lake, the book is a retelling of the Tongva story of how the sun got up into the sky. During their work on the book, Alvitre and Lake also teamed up with Wilson to create a virtual reality film sharing another Tongva creation story about the emergence of the world. It tells how Puvungna, the place of the gathering, came to be of such cultural significance to the Tongva people. Their collective name refers back to Puvungna, the source of inspiration and the site on the campus of CSULB where indigenous community members continue to hold ceremonies.