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indigenous

Zoë Kreye Heart-Host Artist in Residence Camosun College Fall 2012

Kreye’s artist in residence research and methodology began with investigating physical locations in the body in which to host people and hold relations with and continued by finding corresponding locations in the land to host bodies. Her exhibition at Open Space included a series of drawings of body and earth cavities, a body of earth and circle ceremony for hosts and guests to share ideas around relations.

notesCircle Ceremony Nov 10 Open Space Artist Run Centre

Zoë Kreye project blog http://heart-host.tumblr.com/

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June 26 Emilio Portal Islands: an installation to honor the spirit of Lekwungen

Aboriginal people have occupied this Territory (aka Victoria) for over 400 years. The Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations people are a part of the Coast Salish ethnic group; their ancestors lived in large cedar houses, in extended family groups that were self-governing. All household groups claimed specific living areas and areas where they could hunt, fish, and collect plants. They occupied the area from Albert Head to Cordova Bay to the San Juan Islands. The language spoken was a dialect known as Lekwungen.[i]

While Islands recognizes the past and the “might have been”, Islands also brings attention to the now and how things might be; with Islands Portal asks us to re-understand relationships between native and stranger, myth, history, knowledge and ceremony. The title, Islands literally refers to an isolate land yet discloses the isolate mind. Silence. Separate.

What if first contact were happening now? Between you and I?

What does it takes to direct thought from what it silently thinks and sound out new thought?

A cedar box which contained a cedar box which contained a cedar box which contained an infinite number of cedar boxes nested inside which contain all the sounds of the universe [ii]

“Cedar spirit is a greater being than I” –Emilio Portal

208 cedar studs 2x4x8 stacked flat racked restacked, Drumming & Percussion

“Hyeshqe!”


[i] Cheryl Bryce and Brenda Sam, “Lekwungen People: The Traditional Territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt People” [pamphlet], 1997

[ii] Robert Bringhurst and Bill Reid, “Raven Steals the Light”, Douglas and McIntrye, 1996 (I remixed this to read sound instead of light)

France Trépanier and Chris Creighton-Kelly

Understanding Aboriginal Arts in Canada Today: A Knowledge and Literature Review

 Research and Evaluation Section Canada Council for the Arts April 2012

Trépanier’s and Creighton-Kelly’s research investigates an essential, but not a simple, question – how does one understand Aboriginal arts which are created in the territory known as Canada?

Skeena Reece Raven: On the Colonial Fleet, 2010

“I once heard an elder say that the great crime in this land was not that the natives had their language and culture beaten out of them in boarding schools – the great crime was that the people who came here did not adopt the culture of the land.” – Mike MacDonald

Trépanier and Creighton-Kelly use methods of observing, listening, respecting, remembering, regenerating, transmitting and healing to tell the connected stories of

Land ~ Peoples ~ Languages ~ Cultural Practices ~ Art

and find knowledge located in different places, in songs, baskets, moccasins, weaving, dreams, ceremony, language and political discourse

Inuvialuit Drummers and Dancers, Inuvik. Photographer: Chris Randle.

Alex Javier, Morning Star, Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Robert Houle, Paris/Ojibwa, 2010

“In Native culture, stories are not simply stories. They are told and retold so that ! they resonate in the present, not as myths and legends, but as a vital part of  history. They teach critical lessons and cultural values, like bravery and the necessity of communication.” Candice Hopkins

Please read and become a pocket of wisdom and wakefulness

Understanding  Aboriginal  Arts  in  Canada  Today


“Stories are our elemental stuff of our time here”

Richard Wagamese

“Tell me a story,” Richard Wagamese, Storyteller and Oral Story Telling Advocate, Harvey S. Southam Lecture Uvic, 02/16/11

Wagamese in a well placed, well-made grey hat stepped unto the stage and into a spontaneous oral story of The Spider and the Mystery.

This is my re-telling of his words: At the beginning of time the Animal people though intuitive and wise lived in darkness. One day a mysterious glimmer appeared on the horizon. It scared the Animal people for they did not have words for the glimmer. The squirrel quickly offered to investigate; he was gone for several weeks, when he returned his tail was charred and he ran about in a silly nilly way. This frightened the Animal people more. Owl offered to look into the mystery; he was gone for several months. When he came back all he did was blink blink blink his eyes. This worried the Animal people more. Spider spoke, “I’ll go check it out.” First she tied a silky filament to a cedar tree, put her basket on her back and set out to journey to the mystery. She was gone for years and years. The Animal people bothered by the mystery forgot about her, but one day they noticed the mystery coming closer. They backed up, the mystery came nearer, hotter, nearer, hotter, hotter, nearer. The air felt heavier than before. Then the Animal people recognized Spider and her basket burdened by a shimmering weighty load of mystery.

Spider!

Oh dear oh she cried, its hot!

You so small, how did you carry that hot mass?

Every time it got too hot I cried a tear and put it in my basket.

Is it heavy?

No, it’s Light.

And that is how the Light came to the Animal people.

(And also why Spider’s web is beaded with tears)

Spider’s tears

Wagamese told us this Ojibwa story with breath and spirit. He told us we could share it and that in the retelling the story will grow stronger and stronger. He hinted that storytelling is like that Spider; tie a filament around something strong (like your friends and family, your tribe or home), then go experience the mystery, follow the filament back and share your voice and your story.

my listening to the story notes

http://richardwagamese.wordpress.com/

Standing in front of a low table flickering with gleams of light from paper baskets Peter Morin acknowledged all the people who shared a story for the Memory Talking Stick project.

Acknowledgment

We were surrounded by the stories and activities; the paper baskets hold the stories in the same way that the drawings mark the wall, the stitches tighten the moccasins and the voices echo in the ear. Morin collect 114 stories from the community 114 stories of unhappiness and suffering also 114 stories of strength. Morin’s work and practice engages in a healing process with elders, survivors and youth; Morin reminded us of today’s date: June 12, the second anniversary of the Canadian government’s apology for assimilation practices in Canada’s residential schools.

Invitation

The doorway into the project is through identity and home.

Invitation

Cleansing

Morin and friends carry cedar baskets around the room – we each take turns smelling the offering. As we breathe in we cleanse our cheeks, foreheads and hair in the vapors of deerskin, cedar bark, smoke, fire. Now we all have the memory of being washed in that smell forever. “Smell is memory, it all comes home back in a rush”, says Morin.

Change

Morin’s work and practice is about direct experience and exchange: listen to a story and a task is placed on you to respond, to share a story in return or retell a story. The method is radically effective. It holds the potential for change. Start asking both friends and chance encounters: – “Who are your people?”

Memory Talking Stick Project Peter Morin Victoria BC 2010

Peter Morin is a visual and performance artist of the Crow clan of the Tahltan Nation. Morin describes his series of performances, 12 Making Objects: 12 Indigenous interventions a.k.a First Nation’s DADA, as “finding ways to address the history of the Residential Schools and the effect of these schools on the aboriginal community and memory.” Morin’s performances acknowledge the pain and struggle caused by the Residential schools in history that is still present in our culture today. This work addresses the past, land stolen, children stolen, but his work honors the memory by creating ceremony through performance to connect with Aboriginal experiences.

Morin uses objects and actions to communicate and transform the gallery spaces and all the objects are left on display; Morin covered a copy of the 1876 Indian Act in animal fat,

made button blankets adorned with braided hair

imprinted moccasin tongues on the walls

drew with salt and tobacco salmon swimming

performed a telephone call to Joseph Beuys

smudged cedar smoke

fried bannock for everyone

cut his hair off while reciting all the words he knows in Tahltan

told stories about his grandmother by reading a deerskin jacket

constructed a tent of branches, string and bunting

danced, wearing layers of red blindfolds to “every breath you take” by P. Diddy

Morin’s actions and objects energize the gallery space. The blindfold dance reveals stories in an interior landscape and under these stories, more stories, aboriginal strata, flora and fauna. Perhaps the beaded deerskin jacket is a living leather letter written by a grandmother to a stolen child; it is a story we can only read with our hands. Perhaps the raw small stick tent is a counter-structure to the residential schools; we can experience an entire leafy encampment in place of bricks and plaster. Perhaps in cutting his hair Morin frees a stone of loss and grief – while pinning the braided hair onto the button blankets is a re-attachment to glory and culture. The salt, tobacco, cedar and sage smoke mingle and intervene in the space and speaking Tahltan words out-loud inverts the space; the words are like bling. And perhaps the soft moccasins, tongues and sole, rhythm and breath, object and story, hold everything together.

Morin quotes his grandmother “with these stories of ours we can escape almost anything.”

12 Making Objects: 12 Indigenous interventions a.k.a First Nation’s DADA, Peter Morin 2009 Artist in Residence Camosun College and Open Space, Victoria BC