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“Yaqui Masks;” Rigo 23
Fowler Museum, West Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Simone Kussatz

Pahko'ola mask (ceremonial), from the collection of Carlos Castaneda, is currently on view at Fowler Museum

Continuing through August 17, 2014

Two distinct but equally intriguing exhibitions are "The Yaqui Masks of Carlos Castaneda” and "Rigo 23: From the Heart of Santa Madera." Perhaps the name in the first one rings a bell, since Castaneda is the anthropologist and author of the famous and controversial book “The Teachings of Don Juan — A Yaqui way of Knowledge”. It displays his collection of painted wooden pahko’ola masks made by the Yaqui people of Northern Mexico. Their representations of animals and people are sometimes humorous, at other times haunting due to the long beards gushing from their chins and hair falling over their eyes. There is also a video and photographs of the pahko’ola rituals carried out by the Yaqui people during major celebrations, including birthdays, weddings, death ceremonies and religious holidays in which they wear these masks.

The other exhibit, by Portuguese artist Rigo 23, consists of eight wall-sized canvases displayed in the hallway surrounding the courtyard, which address the struggles of Native Americans in the U.S. This mixed-media installation integrates elements of the film “The Exiles,” which chronicles one night in the lives of three young Native American men living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles; the Indian Island of Eureka Bay, where the Wiyot massacre of 1860 took place; the continued imprisonment of Lakota tribes persons; and other references to the injustices done against American Indians. These compositions are backed up with quotes by philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon.

Fowler Museum at UCLA

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