Once upon a Twitter feed…
Reaching through dreams, she gathers a village of 87,000, telling stories in 140 characters or less. Stories of colonization and resistance, of animals, spirits, stories of staking out sacred ground and stoking the fire at its center. Iñupiaq rapper, writer, activist, and performance artist Allison Warden, who performs as AKU-MATU, began writing Twitter poems in Spring 2013. Her grandmother had just died, and on the way to the funeral the muse found her.
“Muses, really,” she says. “My ancestors.”
They had long spoken to her, but since that day they’ve sung remembering songs in bursts of verse on Twitter, banged out along the way of life on her paint-splattered iPhone.
“I am my ancestors’ experience of this technology,” says Warden. “I’m filtering their worldview through the reality of now. I try to intensely be my ancestors' perspective and hold that space on Twitter.”
After four years of Twitter poetry, Warden has approximately 87,000 followers, and her poems have been re-Tweeted, shared and re-shared, passed down over and over. The museum is pleased to support this creative effort as part of its Polar Lab project and will be re-tweeting the poem-posts throughout the summer. A book of these poems, titled “Taimanisaaq/Akkupak (Long Long Time Ago/Right Now) is available in the Anchorage Museum Store.
Museum visitors may recall Warden’s multimedia installation and two-month performance at the Anchorage Museum in Fall 2016 that took the form of an Iñupiat ceremonial qargi. Warden’s version was a futuristic recreation of a ceremonial house, where she allowed her audience to gently explore the space in a contemporary context. Warden described it as existing “in the space of where the hyper-future meets the super-ancient, a liminal space where myths are born and the Eagle Mother is honored with ceremony and dance.”