Being Out On the Land: Feeds, Streams and Captures
Curator: Tania Willard
Assistant Curator: Maura Tamez
TOTA Mobile iArt Gallery
Rotary Centre for the Arts: May 21 - July 4
Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC: July 5 - August 20
Wednesday- Friday, 12nn- 7pm
Saturday- Sunday, 11am- 4pm (Summer Hours: 11am- 6pm)
iArt Gallery, presented by Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA), the Rotary Centre for the Arts (RCA), and the University of British Columbia- Okanagan (UBCO) Summer Indigenous Art Intensive
Three Indigenous artists' video works will screen inside a unique mobile gallery, parked out front of the Rotary Centre for the Arts this spring and summer, the iArt Gallery will present works by noted artists Maureen Gruben, Christine Howard Sandoval and Krista Belle Stewart. Curated by UBC Okanagan Assistant Professor Tania Willard as part of the Indigenous Art Intensive. UBC Okanagan’s Indigenous Art Intensive gathers artists, curators, writers, students and scholars to engage in contemporary ideas and dialogue rooted in Indigenous contemporary art. Since 2014 the intensive has been offered at UBC Okanagan, located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. The exhibition, Being Out On the Land: Feeds, Streams and Captures, is mounted in partnership with the Rotary Centre for the Arts and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. The Rotary Centre for the Arts Galleria will also showcase Indigenous youth and emerging artists curated by BFA student and artist Maura Tamez.
Land Art as a largely American art movement and a reaction to the commercialization of art has always struck me as ironic especially in North America, as I understand it, a colonized landscape, and a grouping of diverse Indigenous territories. In the ideas behind Land Art, relational practices, ecological considerations and more inform the final form or art product, it seems to me that Indigenous peoples have been making 'Land' Art since time immemorial. In this series of video works by artists Maureen Gruben (Inuvialuk), Krista Belle Stewart (Syilx) and Christine Howard Sandoval (Obispeño Chumash and Hispanic ) the artists trace out pathways, trails and positions of engaging with the indigeneity of land.
In Christine Howard Sandoval’s video Live Stream (2018) the act of following a walking path of previous streams and water bodies is a tool of revealing the Indigenous landscape beneath the settler development on the surface of the site of the Acequia Madre (Taos, NM). Sandoval uses body-mounted cameras and equipment and shows us buried paths that are bound to settler colonial histories, the built environment and the possibility of resurfacing both as shifting water bodies and ecologies.
Krista Belle Stewart’s video work, Potato Garden’s Band (2018) has been shown alongside previous performances and installations that highlights the artists use of natural pigment and works made with earth from her home territories in Spaxomin, Douglas Lake BC. The work screened here as a video feed from 2018 which took place between Stewart’s Spaxomin land, and the 221A gallery in Vancouver BC. Transmitting a live feed of her land from her phone, of a speaker system playing her great-grandmother's recording, on her ancestral land, her performance indicated a relationality between her family community and land. The resulting low quality video and shaky footage also are read as a gesture of refusal, a refusal embedded in the settler gaze and usurping of Indigenous lands, shown here in a live feed from reserve to major Canadian city.
In Stitching My Landscape (2017), Maureen Gruben’s significant land work and experimental video the artist drills hundreds of ice holes with a manual ice auger creating multiple points that are then stitched together with red broadcloth over an expanse of frozen sea ice. Over 300 metres of bright red broadcloth in sharp contrast to the snowy landscape in and around Tuktoyaktuk NWT and the Ibuyuq Pingo zig zag across the ice and snow. Preparing the site involved engaging the local community. The artists’ solo, performative process stitching together the holes across the sea ice reveal a pattern that recalls the beautifully worked delta trim that adorns Inuvialuit drum dancing parkas. Aerial views and drone footage show the scale of the final work and indicate footprints, sled and skidoo tracks, that mark out the active use of land by Inuvialiuktun peoples. The background audio for the film is the sound of a traditional chisel that had belonged to Gruben’s father, working the ice. It has been slowed down such that each moment of contact becomes reminiscent of a heartbeat.
This series of work acts against the perceived notion of the erasure of Indigenous lands as scholars Eve Tuck and Wayne Yang assert, “Everything within a settler colonial society strains to destroy or assimilate the Native in order to disappear them from the land.” Here the artist’s work in video and in their performative acts on the land act to question the invisibility, erasure and dispossession of Indigenous lands. Through experimental video, alternate forms of filming, body-cameras, drones and handheld cell phones, the artists enact land claims, the continuum of ancestral connection to territory is marked by their acts.