Legendary L.A. based musician, poet, and activist Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara joins forces with Diné artist and anarchist Klee Jones Benally for Flagstaff’s premiere ARTx festival. In across cultural Indigenous, intergenerational collaboration of resistance art titled “TzonteyōtlNa’ach’ąąh,” both artists will share the stage with Diné drag artist Lady Shug, Indigenous dancer, freestyler, and visual performance artist Sonni Pinto, and Danza Mexica Mexicayōtl.Tzonteyōtl translates to resistance in Nahuatl and Na’ach’ąąh translates to art in Diné (Navajo).
This dynamic performance features spoken word, drag, dance, music, and visual projections. The performance is part of ARTx: Art + Ideas Experience Arizona festival, a new festival providing “a regional and national platform for local artists, creatives, and thinkers. ARTx is an annual, accessible community opportunity to engage with the arts in an immersive and interactive way.” Visit www.artxideas.org for more information.
This collaborative performance connecting Diné and Xican@ cultures offers an unraveling of histories through shared re-imaginings which will celebrate the art of Indigenous resistanceagainst the gendered violence of colonialism.
The performance is produced by the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation. “Bringing Klee Jones Benally and Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara together to collaborate on bridging cultures and shared struggles, creating a stirring, multi-interdisciplinary performance art piece, exemplifies the Arts and Cultural Bridge Foundation’s mission, to build a deeper understanding and dialogue between people through the arts.” – Suzanne Thompson, President
“We live where the streets have no shame,” states Klee Jones Benally, “Where the most revered holy site of 13 Indigenous Nations is desecrated with treated sewage. Where unsheltered Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately arrested while facing freezing temperatures. Where the names of Indigenous women like Ariel Bryant, Nicole Joe, and Vanessa Lee are lost in-between brief news posts and labeled as missing, as murdered. This is occupied Kinłani, so-called Flagstaff, a ‘border town’ of many borders and buried histories. From forced migrations and border wall militarization, to assaults on bodily autonomy and transphobic attacks, how do we find harmony when the borders of colonial violence cross our lives everyday?”
“My performance will not only address past and current toxic injustices and violence experienced by Indigenous peoples but will also reveal through spoken word and ritual theater their unique, elemental contributions and achievements in agriculture (corn, squash, beans, avocados, chocolate, etc.) the arts, architecture, and astronomy (Mayan and Aztec),” says Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara. “Knowledge of these struggles, contributions and achievements can possibly shift misperceptions and show the intrinsic, elemental value of Indigenous cultures and how their various contributions have continued to enrich this country and continent for thousands of years. Hopefully, a more transparent, equitable, educated, and humane society will emerge.”
Sonni Pinto states, “Recognizing Indigenous queerness is something I want to amplify by abolishing masculinity through my movement, and connecting to the silence of reinforcing they are not alone through the struggle.”
Danza Mexica Mexicayōtl offers an assertion of Indigenous solidarity, “In the spirit of the Zapatistas we quote Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano (formerly known as Marcos), ‘We are nothing if we walk alone. We are everything when we walk together in step with other dignified feet.’”
Lady Shug states, "Drag has always been an act of art and resistance. We won't back down as we face this wave of queer/transphobic legislation. When queer expression is under attack, we must stand up and fight back with our heels and fist in the air."
More info about the artists:
Los Angeles Xikano Native, musician, poet, performer, and author, Rubén Funkahuatl Guevara, is the subject of the 2021 Emmy nominated episode “Con Safos” for the KCET/ PBS SoCal series, Artbound. The documentary also received two local and two national broadcast journalism awards which featured sixty years of his work as a “Chicano culture sculptor” in theater, spoken word, record production, and as a singer-songwriter-band leader.
Klee Jones Benally is a Diné musician, writer, artist, traditional dancer, filmmaker, & Indigenous anarchist. Klee is originally from Black Mesa and has worked nearly all of his life at the front lines in struggles to protect Indigenous sacred lands.
Lady Shug is a proud Indigenous queen, born of the Diné (Navajo) Nation, growing up in the four corners area in New Mexico. Lady Shug’s drag persona, has been in the business of female impersonation for over 10+ years.
Sonni Pinto is an Indigenous dancer, freestyler, and visual performance artist. Arizona descendent for 40 years, grew up in dancing in Indigenous social Pow-Wow circuits, and street dance. Sonni is expressive in Hip-Hop and house movement, Culture, identity, and experimental social awareness.”
Danza Mexica Mexicayōtl - We are a Danza group that focuses on bringing awareness to injustices affecting Indigenous people and people around the world. We use our culture and traditions as a tool to bring awareness to such issues and allow our dances to “speak for us” to convey such messages to the public.