AT CONFEDERATION TWO PATHS WERE LAID OUT: ONE FOR NON-ABORIGINAL CANADIANS OF FULL PARTICIPATION IN THE AFFAIRS OF THEIR COMMUNITIES, PROVINCE AND NATION;
AND ONE FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE FIRST NATIONS, SEPARATED FROM PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL LIFE, AND HENCEFORTH TO EXIST IN COMMUNITIES WHERE THEIR TRADITIONAL GOVERNMENTS WERE IGNORED, UNDERMINED AND SUPPRESSED, AND WHOSE COLONIZATION WAS AS PROFOUND AS IT WOULD PROVE TO BE IMMUTABLE OVER THE ENSUING DECADES.
- ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES
ourselves, about assimilating and reclaiming art processes and mediums to express the balance we live in. Many of the artists are young and emerging, emerging aboriginal artists today have the work of the generation before us to build upon.
When I first came to Vancouver an art school, reservation and small town raised 20 year old I met Archer Pechawis at grunt gallery and he gave me the documentation of the performance cabaret Half Bred exploring identity, mixed blood, and diverse sexuality through performance and visual art. It is this work and understanding that we as emerging artists are building on. As emerging artists in a small community of aboriginal artists we respect and value the work of older and established artists as they build inroads and paths between these worlds.
Our stories and histories also reflect the two worlds that are in our Creation stories, the animal world and the transformers and shape shifters and the world of our ancestor's. In my people's stories it was the Trickster who made the world safe for the coming people. I see these emerging artists making the world safe for their children and for generations to come.
Making the world safe to be who they are to be able to transform and shift into both these worlds to bridge these realities. So this balance is always shifting, these two worlds are beautiful, angry, joyful and painful the artwork is the same. This work explores contradiction and sacrifice that I see as linked to our experience in living in the push and pull of these two worlds. We are sometimes united by these two worlds and sometimes torn apart by them.
It is the sacrifice shown in these works exhibited throughout grunt gallery's past 10 years showcasing emerging Aboriginal artists that I want to show you, that I want to explore.
My great grandfather was a half-breed; he was also one of the few in his day who still lived in a traditional winter home and trained for power. He always said he lived in 'Two Worlds' the white one and the Indian one. Indians, who make art, live in the city, or who are mixed blood live here too-in contradiction, in parallel, in spite of and in between.
Two Worlds is about showing the beauty, the anger, the confusion and the protest of living in between these two worlds. We live in worlds occupied by spirits and remembering, by McDonald's and television, by our ancestor's bones and popular culture, what we take with us and what we leave behind is our survival.
Our interpretation of this world where our home reservations are steeped in poverty yet the city is alive in wealth, where we crave the influence of cities, diversity and opportunity but we sacrifice our homes, our cultures and our languages-to survive. This work is as much about reclaiming as it is about loss, in protest to this pressure we express ourselves through our ancestor's ways, exploring today's issues. Sacrifice is part of our cultures, part of our way of maintaining balance in our worlds. Living in these two worlds we are products of sacrifice and survival, we negotiate sacrifice and survival in our daily lives. The artists in this collection all evoke this balance, this tension, sacrifice and survival in their work.
Lori Blondeau's performance gorging on McDonald's hamburgers while berries are pounded and fish are gutted as cinema backdrop is a painfully beautiful expression of these two worlds. From Gord Hill's very active and utilitarian protest art to Peter Morin's exploration of Tahltan aesthetics, Judy Chartrands loaded Lysol cans and Charlene Vickers' beer case moccasins. This work is about exploring our worlds, not to find our place but to find our space and ourselves.
This show is about finding the space, the voices to express