Julia Bogany, Megan Dorame, iris yirei hu, Pakook koy Peshaax (The Sun Enters the Earth and Leaves the Earth), 2021 (painting, detail)
Los Angeles State Historic Park 1245 N. Spring Stret Los Angeles, CA 90012
Julia Bogany (Tongva), poet Megan Dorame (Tongva), and artist iris yirei hu have constructed a human sundial titled Pakook koy Peshaax (The Sun Enters the Earth and Leaves the Earth) at Los Angeles State Historic Park. To interact with the sundial, visitors stand on a platform, from which their cast shadows tell time. Their sundial considers the cycle of life and regeneration by using materials that can rehabilitate the earth. Soil and compost shape the sundial’s arc, onto which each hour is marked by stone replicas of cogstones. Cogstones are discoidal, cog-shaped objects that were carved into different varieties of stone. Because they are believed to have been ceremonial in nature, they are held in sacred regard to the Indigenous people of Southern California. Cogstones have been found throughout the Los Angeles Basin, with their highest concentrations being found along the Santa Ana River and at the Bolsa Chica site in Orange County. The enigmatic stones, which date back to at least 7000 BC, have shaped the Indigenous legacy of Southern California.
In an effort to ground our healing from traumatic and oppressive forces, Tongva elder Julia Bogany often led wellness circles for Indigenous women and youth that began with the question, “Who is the rock beside you?” to call in the relationships that have impacted and supported our lives. Her formative question eventually led the collaborative triad to feature the ancestral cogstones, whose function and meaning continue to be mysterious. In her poem, “Cogstones,” Tongva poet Megan Dorame uses the imagery of these sacred artifacts to question the cultural patrimony of the myriad of looted Tongva tribal objects that are currently displayed in museums. To repatriate these objects to her people, she symbolically throws them into the sky where her ancestors exist as stars. Dorame’s work is rooted in her homeland, the Los Angeles Basin, where she explores the entanglements of settler colonialism and confronts its implications on her community. In her work, she moves between past and present in search of a path towards healing, and ultimately finds her way through the language, images, sounds and songs of her ancestors.
Visitors are invited to stand on a colorful platform that features newly commissioned poetry by Megan Dorame and painted imagery by artist iris yirei hu. The imagery depicts Blue Child, a recurring ancestral figure in hu’s oeuvre, attuning themself to the brilliance of Bogany and Dorame’s Tovaangar while making meaning nearby Dorame words and Bogany’s legacy. In the past, hu and Bogany supported each other in creative and classroom teaching capacities in ways that uplifted Bogany’s advocacy to ensure that the future of her culture, people, and language are bountiful and accessible for generations to come. Together, Bogany, Dorame, and hu present visitors with an offering to connect purposefully to place and affirm our position within the extant systems of the universe. They imagine an alternate possibility for the cogstones’ return by forging a multi-layered path towards healing: To heal the soil is to heal the place we call home, and to heal the place we call home is to heal ourselves.
Pakook koy Peshaax (The Sun Enters the Earth and Leaves the Earth) is presented in loving memory of Julia Bogany, whose legacy lives on in the hearts of the Tongva community and beyond. To learn more about Ms. Bogany, please visit her website at http://www.tobevisible.org.
The project received astronomical consultation from Yuguang Chen, and fabrication assistance from Nicolas Papoin and David L. Bell.
Julia Bogany, Megan Dorame, iris yirei hu: Pakook koy Peshaax (The Sun Enters the Earth and Leaves the Earth) is part of WE RISE from May 7 to May 30, 2021. WE RISE, an initiative by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), is a month-long series of free community programs, events and experiences highlighting the healing powers of art and connection during Mental Health Awareness Month. In its fourth year, WE RISE is needed now more than ever as the region emerges from the isolation of the global pandemic and continues to grapple with related stressors and racial injustice.
ICA LA and Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) have partnered to commission and work with artists veronique d'entremont and Julia Bogany, Megan Dorame, iris yirei hu to create original public art projects and public programs within the Los Angeles State Historic Park.