James Luna, Take a Picture with a Real Indian, 1993
In Luna’s own words:
"Standing at a podium wearing an outfit, I announce: “Take a picture with a real Indian. Take a picture here, in Washington, D.C. on this beautiful Monday morning, on this holiday called Columbus Day. America loves to say ‘her Indians.’ America loves to see us dance for them. America likes our arts and crafts. America likes to name cars and trucks after our tribes. Take a picture with a real Indian. Take a picture here today, on this sunny day here in Washington, D.C.” And then I just stand there. Eventually, one person will pose with me. After that they just start lining up. I’ll do that for a while until I get mad enough or humiliated enough."
Many audience members did not see the irony in Luna’s piece, but rather saw it as a legitimate exhibition on Native Americans. Luna attribute’s this to Americans seeing Native Americans as theirs for the taking, from their culture to their history to their artifacts. By consciously subjecting himself to this common practice, Luna turns this idea around by making the viewer within the picture look the fool.
For more on the artist’s views of this piece, read his Q&A for the Smithsonian.