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Muhheakantuck – Everything Has a Name

Continuous color 16mm film projection with sound, projection screen,
and seats. 40 minutes, dimensions variable
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“The European-American history of the Hudson is just a moment in the great sweep of geological and native time in the Hudson Valley....If European explorers laid claim to the lands of the New World by the act of naming, then we must recognize the prior claim of native peoples inherent in [the indigenous name for the river] “Muhheakantuck” and examine the disposition of that claim by the Europeans.” *

Two real-time aerial views of the Hudson River, one shot while flying north and the other while flying south, are continuously projected one after the other onto a low, floating screen in the exhibition space. The original color in the film is replaced with a strong magenta hue, denaturalizing the image. A voice recounts the brief but disas-
trous forty-year period when the Leni-Lenape, the indigenous inhabitants of the lower Hudson River Valley, came into contact with the corporate entity of the Dutch West India Company.

The Lenape called the river Muhheakantuck, translatable as "the river that flows in two directions." Are the practices of history and cartography adequate to describe such a river and its valley, and to describe it as space and place? "Muhheakan-
tuck–Everything Has a Name" juxtaposes these two related modes of represent-
ation—historical narrative and geographic mapping—and problematizes both.

* Stanne, Stephen, et al. The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996, p. 91.