Jan 26, 2018 – May 12, 2018
Merritt Johnson uses soft-spoken but powerful language, catchphrases, and DIY instructional videos to provide a model for viewers to follow to enact change while exploring the physical, political, and ecological issues facing indigenous peoples and their dedication to the land.
DIY: NoDAPL and Exorcising America: Taking a Fall employ an aesthetic similar to most homemade step-by-step videos found on YouTube. The image quality, lighting, and composition imitate something familiar to anyone with a camera phone. This subtle approach to the look and feel of the video allows the importance of the ideas conveyed to be the viewer’s focus. Johnson delivers messages of resisting corporate greed and recognizing the violent acts committed against indigenous peoples protecting the land through carefully written instructional speeches that make the viewer rethink commonly used words and phrases. Initially, coming across as simple and straightforward, this speech gives way to the complexities inherent within a language and take on new meanings, especially when paired with the actions performed by the artist on screen.
Through this pairing, Johnson encourages the viewer to question their role in supporting corporations that take from the land and in turning a blind eye to the recent protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Supported by ZAP and Rocky Mountain Power Foundation.