War Was Dancing
War Was Dancing
Cotton and abaca paper
Leather case, full
8.5 × 5.5 in
University of Connecticut (UCONN)
In the early 1980s, Brian D. Tripp started imagining and drawing various Karuk Tribal military campaign ribbons awarded to Karuk warriors for valor and perseverance in the numerous battles where Karuk warriors defended their tribe against attacks by the United States of America military.
These ribbons appropriated American military motifs and merged Karuk iconography into the designs. More than 60 ribbon designs, sketches, and associated drawings fill this chilling enigmatic book which is as much an encyclopedia of an alternative universe of Karuk as much as it is a penetrating critique of both American history and Western concepts of military valor. The piece also provides an indigenous perspective on Situationist strategies, conceptual linguistics, and the multi-cultural riffing of the 1980s (which Brian encountered in both his many trips to San Francisco and in the community of intellectual indigenous and Western artists of Northern California.)
Importantly the book also illustrates Brian’s early more conventional American and Western drawing style changing into his more expressionistic, emotive, and indigenous style, a self-conscious revisiting of the concept in the 1990s overtly depicts the completed stylistic change as Brian ends the book with a cryptic “Yes Mother” graphic.
Master binder Sara Parkel houses the book in a magnificent Cathedral Calf leather binding that embosses a detail based on one of Brian’s designs on the spine and front cover and uses abaca/cotton endpapers to hold the book.