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Gashka'oode: Tangled- Artist and Curator Talk

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saturday, 1:00- 3:00 PM

Join artists Jason Baerg, Wally Dion, Beverly Doxtator, Amy Malbeuf and exhibition curator Dolleen Manning to discuss Gashka'oode (Tangled).

*Image courtesy of Jason Baerg.

About the exhibition:

The theme of this exhibition is gashka’oode, an Ojibwe term which refers to relational entanglements. I draw on traditional Ojibwe Anishinaabe approaches to thinking about the self as relational, since these conceptions allow for complex renegotiations of selfhood in contemporary contexts. In my interpretation, being Anishinaabe (original peoples) is not derived from what is internal to bounded individuals but instead occurs in the interstices between community members, including animals, plants and objects. As curator, I am interested in the ‘entanglements’ reflected in the heterogeneity of Aboriginal experiences.

Thus I selected these artists more for their differences than their similarities. In this project, I ask how contemporary Indigenous artists respond to the encounter with Western realities, in and through their understandings of a self that is always already constructed in relation to difference. Confronted with the complex challenges, disparate interests and paradoxical relationships posed by contemporary Indigenous experiences, the artists refuse to latch on to easy answers and complacent stereotypes. Yet, they share a resistance to romanticizing a return to the purity of an authentic origin and, instead, explore complex encounters between contemporary and traditional realities, individuals and communities, and people and their environments.

The artists in Gashka’oode (Tangled) are extremely diverse, not only in their relationships to Indigenous cultures and communities, but also in their mediums that include digital media, sculpture, photography and performance. Their works share themes of entanglement in which subjects negotiate being in-relation and out-of-place. For example,

Jason Baerg combines painting and multimedia to create conceptual works about urban Aboriginal subjectivity and simulacrum. He re-appropriates and deepens the abstraction of iconic Indigenous imagery reproducing them in multiple stages and mediums, which layer and challenge their respective histories, meanings and contexts. Wally Dion’s Shield Wall, comprised of computer circuit board star blankets interrogates notions of indigeneity and the production of culture and identity. Thus his technological materials combined with traditional Indigenous motifs erode the borders that define identity as static remainders from the past. Beverly Doxtator’s black and white landscape photographs (taken on the reserve where she lives) capture fog, light, and reflection to investigate her diffuse sense of self in relation to a community of the world. The entanglement of dense bush that represent ‘traditional Indigenous’ conceptions of an interrelational self, can be seen emerging from the palpable film of mist and shadow. Amy Malbeuf’s artworks negotiate concepts of discord and the sacred as they play out in her consumer saturated urban experiences, often juxtaposed, disconcertedly, to her agricultural/Métis heritage. Decked out in various neon-coloured unitards (giving her an alien-like appearance), she commandeers a fertilizer spreader to create glittering salt medicine wheels in public spaces. This exhibition of diverse artworks explores the entangled and inter-relational experiences inherent to contemporary Indigenous realities. As such, this exhibition troubles borders, expand discourses, and creates openings to new possibilities for understanding selfhood and the world


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