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Language of Puncture
51 B Young Street Ottawa, Ontario K1S 3H6
Language of Puncture
September 30 – October 28, 2017
Alicia Reyes McNamara (Chicana-USA/UK) * Amy Malbeuf (Métis-Rich Lake, AB) * Audrey Dreaver (Cree-Regina, SK) * Ogimaa Mikana (Anishinaabe / Chimnissing / Couchiching, ON) * Rolande Souliere (Anishinaabe-AUS) * Whess Harman (Carrier-Vancouver, BC)
Language of Puncture is an exhibition curated by visual artist Joi T. Arcand (néhiyaw/Muskeg Lake Cree Nation/based in Ottawa, ON). Arcand’s project brings together a group of Indigenous artists working with the material qualities of language, words and text within their varied practices. G101 and Arcand want to express our special thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for the Curatorial Projects funding, Michelle Lavallee for her mentorship and to the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective for thier support with the roundtable.
Roundtable discussion at 4-6pm and opening party 8pm September 30, 2017. A limited edition risograph poster, designed by Whess Harman will be available for $20 over the run of the show.
The artists in the exhibition Language of Puncture use text and language – Indigenous or otherwise – to not only tear down colonial structure, but to rebuild worlds in their own words. For many Indigenous artists, working in the dominant colonial language has become a tactic to speak directly to the colonizer; or a necessity, where English is the first language (or, second language, as artist Gordon Hookey frames it: “English is my second language; I just don’t have access to my first”1 ).
This access to language was violently interrupted by colonial policies designed to remove Indigenous cultures. Residential schools and other destructive directives severed the systems in which language and culture are passed down. Although orality is the primary method of transferring knowledge in many Indigenous cultures, it is also a part of a vast visual culture including petroglyphy and rock painting, which scholar Teresia Teaiwa likens to, “viable and legitimate antecedents to writing.”2 In some cases, such as Cree syllabics or cahkipēhikana , written languages emerged from a place of urgency . These visual markers tell their own stories of strength and resistance; holding up whole worlds within its glyphs.
The artists in Language of Puncture are writing language anew – often employing humour, slang, and vernacular drawn from shared, everyday experiences. They are creating new typographies and Indigenizing fonts, whispering Anishinaabemowin through spray painted letters, beading secrets out of slang, and letting letters carry the weight of not knowing one’s language.
Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan ~ Treaty 6 Territory currently living in Ottawa. Arcand grew up on Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in central Saskatchewan. Arcand has served as chair of the board of directors for Paved Art and New Media in Saskatoon, and along with Felicia Gay was the co-founder of the Red Shift Gallery, a contemporary Aboriginal art gallery also in Saskatoon that was in operation from 2006 to 2010.
Arcand received curatorial mentorship from Michelle LaVallee. LaVallee recently accepted the position of Director of the Art Centre, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. As Curator at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan (2007-2017), her curatorial work has explored the colonial relations that have shaped historical and contemporary visual culture. LaVallee has been a chosen participant for a number of International Canadian Curator Delegations in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. She is a curator, artist and educator of Ojibway ancestry, and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Band, Cape Croker, Ontario.
Amy Malbeuf is a Métis visual artist from Rich Lake, Alberta. Through utilizing mediums such as caribou hair tufting, beadwork, installation, performance, and video Malbeuf explores notions of identity, place, language, and ecology. Malbeuf has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Malbeuf holds a MFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
Audrey Dreaver is a painter, independent curator, museum and fine art consultant, art and art history instructor. She is nehiyiwak (Plains Cree) and her family comes from the Mistawasis and Ahtahkakoop Cree Nations of central Saskatchewan. Audrey received her undergraduate degrees from the Institute of American Indian Arts graduating in 2008 with a BFA Studio (painting, non-toxic printmaking, small metal sculpture, Native art histories), and a BA Museum Studies (curation, museum history, repatriation, Native art histories).
Alicia Reyes McNamara recently received her MFA from the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art, after completing her BFA at California College of the Arts. Her work has been included in Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016 exhibition in the Liverpool Biennial at the Bluecoat and later at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art. She was chosen to be the resident artist at South London Gallery, where she was later given a solo show. Alicia is originally from Chicago and is currently based in London UK.
Whess Harman is a trans-nonbinary artist and member of the Carrier Witat Nation from prince rupert, bc. They are currently based in vancouver.
Ogimaa Mikana is an artist collective founded by Susan Blight (Anishinaabe, Couchiching) and Hayden King (Anishinaabe, Gchi’mnissing) in January 2013. Through public art, site-specific intervention, and social practice, we assert Anishinaabe self-determination on the land and in the public sphere.
Rolande (Wassay) Souliere was born in Toronto, Ontario and is Anishinaabe and member of Michipicoten First Nation. Souliere became a contemporary artist when she migrated to Australia in the late nineties. Prior to this her artistic knowledge was grounded in her First Nation heritage. She pursued her artistic endeavours and engaged in the arts community by becoming art school trained at Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Sydney. Souliere was the director of the student run gallery Newspace from 2001-2003 and a committee member of ARTPORT (a joint initiative of Sydney’s artist-run spaces and the Museums and Galleries Foundation of NSW) in 2003-04 .
Souliere lives and works between her home country Canada and Sydney, Australia.
1 Croft, Brenda L., (2010, March). Gordon Hookey:Flash Godon’s message – language is a virus. Artlink. Retrieved from https://www.artlink.com.au/articles/3362/gordon-hookey-flash-gordonE28099s-message-language-i/
2 Teawia, Teresia. What Remains to Be Seen: Reclaiming the Visual Roots of Pacific Literature. PMLA, Vol. 125, No. 3 (May 2010), pp. 730-736)
3 cahkipēhikana translates to “marks representing the spirit of sound” in Plains Cree. Darryl Chamakese, in conversation.
4 Stevenson, Winona. Calling Badger and the Symbols of the Spirit Language: The Cree Origins of the Syllabic System. Oral History Forum d’histoire orale, 19/20 (1999-2000), pp. 19-24.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 5pm
Gallery 101 gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council (an agency of the government of Ontario), and the Canada Council for the Arts. Gallery 101 thanks the Asinabka: Film & Media Arts Festival, our members, volunteers, partners, and all our relations.