The "Sacred Indian Camp concept" among many other ideas, came to surface in a dream of the artist. What was seen was part reality, part fantasy as the dream came into memory. In his sleep Ben imagined a full sized "Indian" camp with around 50 lodges with many parts of traditional daily life interposed with modern day items, like basketball sneakers, a tube tv as the fireplace, and medicine bags lined with glass and plastic bottles of prescription medication and opioidal doseages. Only in looking more closely at the details, he realized all things to be synthetic and fake. All plastic everything. The teepees, the poles, the stakes, the ropes, the pins, the medicine bags were all synthesized recreations. Even down to the cultural items of regalia, they were simply unfounded by any real cultural history or authenticity in design or color. Everything then began to spontaneously morph into romanticized recreations of the "American Indian" and into stereotypical items that the western world had created. From children's playthings, to Hollywood movies, to Iron Eyes Cody sign language books, to small statuettes, to the commercialization of sacred tobacco, this existence was literally shifting before his eyes from a raw, freshly constructed conceptual plane into a world thriving on the basis of objectification. The lodges were adorning themselves with graffitied images and tag lines as Ben saw himself throughout the conglomeration of lodges. Although the apparent detriment in message, there were items in each lodge that seemed to carried real life significance relating to issues on reservations and in urban settings. One lodge, opposite to a traditionally built lodge of animal skins and real lodge pole pine, appeared to have a concentric gravity to its nature, it seemed as though it was being inhabited by a surrogate representation of the Artist. This place felt different, from the number of poles holding the lodge up, to the amount of stakes and pins there existed an odd feeling void of human touch, although it was comfortable, and so easily relatable to how Ben sees himself, as a literal product of assimilation with privileges fueled by ethnic ambiguity in a society built on such hard lines of color, beautiful yet confused and divided. Upon the realization that this fantasized world is more real than previously surmised, Ben could not release himself from the experience of the dream state. In the way Ben was brought up in, dreams carry power and knowledge. One must both respect and heed, as the visions are gifts, if not from ones self from a greater power or the Creator. The vision needed to be fleshed out in the real world, or what is the projection of the real world. This stereotypical dream state does exist, in abstract metaphor, and is forever evolving, growing and breathing. This conceptualized rendition will be a continued project in years to come as more is understood about the meaning of the dream.
This work was constructed and opened during the exhibition "Trophy Room" as sponsored by Mountain Living Magazine at The Stapleton Art Gallery of Billings, MT on Nov. 8th 2018