Love and Fury follows several Native American artists spreading their creations across the planet for a year. From Paris to Albuquerque, writer-director Sterlin Harjo’s incredible documentary showcases contemporary artists who are native but don’t work within the confines of traditional Southwest imagery.
There are painters whose work hangs in galleries in New York as well as on the walls of buildings in Oklahoma. There are jazz singers and violinists along with the punk grrl bands Weedrat and Black Belt Eagle Scout. There are performance art dancers and industrial noise bands like Tick Suck and Spirit Plate. By focusing on how diverse the mediums worked within are, the movie seeks to break the preconceived notions of what kind of art Natives are capable of making and what they should be making.
“…showcases contemporary artists who are native but don’t work within the confines of traditional Southwest imagery.”
Many artists speak of a post-colonialist era that will no longer view Native Americans or their art as by-gone museum pieces. Instead, they show how their experience and culture can funnel into a huge array of relevant modern artwork that can be appreciated internationally. One of the artists said he is an optimist not because his people survived some horrible s**t but due to his people’s capacity to turn fury into love.
Harjo has already achieved great things for Native American representation. His work with the revolutionary sketch comedy group the 1491s examines misconceptions about Native culture while being funny as f**k. His groundbreaking dramedy series Reservation Dogs brings modern Native culture to a global audience while being funny as f**k. However, documentaries are another form entirely, especially sifting through hours of footage to cut together something that informs and moves the viewer while keeping the pace going. Harjo not only meets the challenge in Love and Fury, he exceeds it. Maybe his comedic background is informing his timing as an editor because the beat and harmony of the arrangement of material is impeccable. The whole thing flows with the energy of a party, like a gallery opening with an open bar.
"…sets the tone for the unexpected art to come."