Maiden Voyage (Installation)
Inspired by the Land O’ Lakes Indian Maiden and the Shadow Wolves, a special, all-Native border control unit of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Maiden Voyage uses motifs of navigation and tracking to explore how privacy and mobility are linked to social class and technological visibility.
Rejecting the racist meek servitude depicted on the Land O’ Lakes butter box, Maiden Voyage recasts The Maiden as a powerful corporate executive who has assumed control of the Land O’ Lakes company. Her wealth amasses while she successfully steers the butter company as CEO. By comparison, the Disorientals are day laborers and poor navigators. Although they try to track The Maiden like the Shadow Wolves, they instead arrive at the “wrong” kind of Indian like Christopher Columbus. “Wrong Indians” appear throughout Maiden Voyage in the form of spinning Thangka cloths, a rotating mandala, and a seated meditation performance. Eventually, the Shadow Wolves become Land O’ Lakes employees who organize a union, go on strike, and protest.
A Note on Woke-Washing:
After we completed this project, Land O'Lakes removed the image of the Indian Maiden from its packaging in 2020. We embrace the elimination of racist imagery from circulation. However, we view this as an attempt to address deep-seated and complex issues literally only on the surface.
From the perspective of "The Food Groups," the removal of an image does not solve the problem of fundamentally exploitative labor practices under racial capitalism, which this series addresses. We began “The Food Groups" series in 2011 with the realization that there were no Asian food industry trade characters despite the extreme racialization of food industry trade characters as a genre. Ironically, the erasure of these characters from packaging not only obscures the real labor of women of color working in the food industry. More profoundly, it further enters them into the same category of invisibility that Asians and Asian Americans already occupy.
Maiden Voyage, 2015
Installation with two videos on monitors, motorized spinning two-sided photographic fabric banners (each 52" x 36", hanging), camouflage objects, dreamcatcher, performance