Friday, January 11, 2019

Hexsa'a̠m: To Be Here Always

Attended the opening of Hexsa'a̠m: To Be Here Always at the Belkin last night and of course I felt the power. Wish more of it was on the walls and floor and not landlocked from the Dzawada’enuxw speeches (including one by Elected Chief Willie Moon) and the friendly presence of those who came down from Kingcome Inlet to help celebrate that which was recently active in their community as a relational research-creation nexus.

Interim-Director Lorna Brown curated Hexsa'a̠m: To Be Here Always, and thanked Dzawada’enuxw artist Marianne Nicolson and UBC artist Althea Thauberger for their extraordinary work in helping to put it together. Both Marianne and Althea contributed material works to the exhibition: the former a large patterned wall hanging, the latter a poster-sized 2018 black-and-white digital inkjet print of school kids sitting with their teacher(?) on the front steps of a small wooden school house.

Although I intend to return to the exhibition, I admit to sad feelings about not having experienced much that has me looking forward to this trip. The retro-revisionist missionaryism of Althea putting smiles on sites of past trauma (schools) is problematic, but I have pictures (below) of the Inkameep Day School to balance that. (Incidentally, an exhibition of late-1930s/early-1940s drawing and paintings from the students of the Inkameep Day School will be mounted next month at the Kelowna Art Gallery and the Okanagan Heritage Museum.)

If there was one work that got me out of myself (besides Inuk/Haitian Taino artist Siku Allooloo's sealskin on canvas Akia, 2018, atop this post) it was Métis-Cree artist Kamala Todd's video Known and Unknown Trails, from Digging Up the Last Spike (2018). Here, the landscape is not captured directly onto the camera's memory card but via its (upside-down) reflection on the waters "running" alongside an ocean-going motor boat. 

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