I’m thrilled to be participating in the Conversation on Contemporary Indigenous Art held in conjunction with the Carleton University Art Gallery‘s opening of Rebecca Belmore‘s solo show What Is Said and What Is Done and The Past Is Present, and the National Gallery of Canada’s Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art. I will be in conversation with Rebecca Belmore, Ursula Johnson, and moderator Heather Anderson.
Conversation on Contemporary Indigenous Art
Tuesday, 25 June 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Heather Anderson will moderate a conversation with Rebecca Belmore (Winnipeg), Ursula Johnson (Cape Breton), and Melody McKiver (Ottawa), in conjunction with Rebecca Belmore | What Is Said and What Is Done. Belmore is renowned for powerful works in performance, sculpture, photography, and video that through spare and exacting means examine sites of historical and contemporary trauma and injustices, in particular those resulting from history of contact between European settler and Indigenous populations.
In recognition of Belmore’s path-breaking work, and on the occasion of the National Gallery of Canada’s landmark Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, we’re broadening the conversation, inviting two rising Indigenous rising artists to join Belmore in conversation. Ursula Johnson, a Mi’kmaw artist currently residing on the Eskasoni Reserve in Cape Breton, creates performances and sculptures that frequently incorporate and transform the traditional basket weaving she learned from her great grandmother, artist Caroline Gould. Ottawa-based Anishinaabe Melody McKiver is a musician and media artist. The conversation will take each artist’s practice as a point of departure and reflect upon what it means to be a contemporary Indigenous artist today.
Rebecca Belmore was born in Upsala, Ontario, and lives in Winnipeg. She represented Canada at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, the first Indigenous woman to do so. The Anishinaabe artist’s work has been included in important exhibitions including Close Encounters (2011), Global Feminisms (2007), the Biennale of Sydney (2006), Land, Spirit, Power (1992), and the IV Havana Biennial (1991). The Vancouver Art Gallery mounted a major survey Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion in 2008. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2009 Hnatyshyn Award and a 2013 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
Ursula Johnson has a BFA (2006) from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where she studied photography, drawing, and textiles. Johnson descends from a long line of Mi’kmaw Artists, including her late great grandmother, Caroline Gould, from whom she learned basket making. In 2010 she curated Klokowej: A 30-Year Retrospective commemorating Gould’s contribution to the evolution of Mi’kmaw basketry. Several of her performances, including Elmiet(2010), Basket Weaving (2011), and L’nuwelti (We Are Indian) (2012), incorporate basketry as a key element, and draw on her studies in theatre. Recent exhibitions include Basket Weaving, Planet IndigenUS Festival and Material Wealth: Revealing Landscape at Harbourfront Centre (2012), and L’nuk (In Collaboration with Jordan A. Bennett), Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax (2012) and The Other Gallery, Banff AB (2010). Johnson lives on the Eskasoni First Nation on Cape Breton Island.
Melody McKiver is an Anishinaabe multi-instrumentalist, improviser, interdisciplinary media artist and researcher. As a solo performer, she explores the range of the viola’s possibilities, from minimalist to danceable, often incorporating laptop processing and looping. Within media arts, she works with digital video and photography to capture images of Indigenous resurgence, and uses this footage both editorially and within video and sound art. McKiver is affiliated with Tribal Spirit Music and plays drums with Toronto’s Indigenous hip-hop fusion band Red Slam Collective. She also records and produces digital media under the pseudonym Gitochige. McKiver is currently completing a MA in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She holds a BFA Honours Major in Music, Minor in Race, Ethnicity & Indigeneity from York University (2010). She currently splits her time between Ottawa and Toronto.