Cannupa Hanska Luger — “We Have Agency”: A Narrative in Process

August 30th, 2016

Cannupa Hanska Luger, an artist whose work represents the human experience through powerful and relevant statements, presents a new series with a message that reminds us of all of our will and ability to change. “We Have Agency” is an inspiring collection that reaches far beyond the mere longing for change and instead, displays the very act of making one.

Inspired by Shibari, a Japanese bondage practice literally meaning, “decoratively tie,” this process often involves a single rope that is twisted and used to create knots to bind an individual. Luger was intrigued by the use of only one rope, stating that, “regardless of where you cut the bond, the entire thing unravels.” “We Have Agency” is Luger’s personal narrative of setting oneself free from the things that bind us and, if you look closely, each figure is holding a knife against the nylon cord that binds them, representing the precise moment of letting go.

The series portrays a collection of human figures, some freestanding and some suspended in mid-air, but each bound with a nylon rope keeping them static. The ceramic and steel figures suspended from a wall represent the fragility and resilience of humanity, while presenting the reality that severing these bonds is often met with a fall. The anticipation of the fall that each of these pieces display may cause discomfort upon recognition but, as Luger himself puts it, “you will fall, but you’ll be free.”

Additional aesthetic choices that Luger made with this work further support the narrative of cutting the bond, beginning with the shape. The geodesic ceramic surface represents the multifaceted aspect of being human, our many angles and beliefs that makes us who we are, yet it’s those sides of ourselves that tend to serve as the very rope that ties us down. The choice of color was something new for Luger, who primarily uses lighter shades of color in his work, describing the black-on-black method as “a subversive choice, representing our dependency, or our bond, to oil.”

Cannupa Hanska Luger is a true expert in articulating his thoughts through his work just as effortlessly and clearly as his words. Through “We Have Agency,” Luger reminds us that, although we are constantly subject to whatever it is that may bind us, be it social media, money, politics, etc., “the only way you can affect any change, is to live by example. You can hope all day but that’s all you’ll get. Let’s be active, let’s allow the world to see change.”


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