6/2/13 4:10 PM
A memorial structure can be a commemoration or it can be a chronicle. Brian Nigus’s “Woris Insait Yu / Friends Inside the Mountain” functions as both in relation to its astonishingly foreign subject: the Sawiyano tribe of Papua New Guinea, an isolated mountain group among whom Nigus lived for two months. Returning to Milwaukee, Nigus fashioned a haunting installation of fabric panels in a dense, digital foliage pattern surrounding an oblong wood sculpture based on the irregular shape of Sawiyano burial holes. Bathed in a dark green light, the room transmits some sensations of remote jungle life, including the funeral that Nigus witnessed during his time with the tribe. In its focus on death, however, “Woris Insait Yu / Friends Inside the Mountain” seems to reflect on the larger, perhaps more dire situation of a tribe of 100 people who speak a language unique to themselves, and whose nearest neighbors are a village six hours away.