Brian Jungen. Warrior 2, 2017. Nike Air Jordans, hide glue, deerskin, 77 x 29 x 24 in. (196 x 74 x 61 cm)
Born in 1970, in Fort St. John, British Columbia, lives and works in North Okanagan, British Columbia.
He has been lauded for his ability to transform everyday commercial products into a range of museological objects. His sculptures and installations imitate forms as large and as small as the skeleton of a whale in Cetology (2002), which is composed of plastic chairs, and Indigenous ceremonial objects, like masks produced from dissected and reconfigured Nike Air Jordan trainers. These works, such as the series Prototype for New Understanding (2005), address the issues of dispossession and appropriation latent in the aesthetics of contemporary global economic, political, and cultural conflict.
In 2015, Jungen made a new series of sculptures from Air Jordan trainers, which coincided with the 30-year anniversary of the product’s release. For this series, the artist used the same tools utilized in initial manufacture of these sneakers, such as a band saw, punches, rivets, drills, and an industrial sewing machine, but he employed techniques drawn from the history and vocabulary of many First Nations’ visual cultures. This approach yields sculptures far more abstract and expressionistic than his earlier series. In Warrior 2 (2018), for example, cross-sections of sneaker carved into feathers fan out from a central fulcrum, held together with deerskin and hide glue. The resulting, round form resembles a headdress, or more precisely, a Cheyenne-style war bonnet; this work was included in the Liverpool Biennial (2018).