The flag spinning performance, sculptures, and other digital media at Gibson’s The Spirits Are Laughing forces us to consider our relationship with the land.
During his lifelong exploration of Indigenous identities, visual artist Jeffrey Gibson has created intricately beaded punching bags, applied modern geometric designs to rawhide canvases, and hung vibrant printed polyester from tepee poles. The Spirits Are Laughing, the latest work from the Colorado Springs–born member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, examines Indigenous kinship philosophy—“the idea of seeing the land as an extension of one’s own family or oneself,” Gibson says. Gibson invited 15 Native and non-Native color guard performers, all of whom identify as queer, to spin flags and “sing to the mountain and the sun” at the Aspen Institute this past August. Beginning November 4, the Aspen Art Museum will display a recording of the live performance, alongside Gibson’s flags and three busts he sculpted from natural materials, during a yearlong exhibit. “All living life emerged from the same place,” Gibson says, meaning that, despite our differences, we are all connected.
Video Still, Jeffrey Gibson, The Spirits Are Laughing, 2022. Shot by Brett Novak.