Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Anthem: Perspectives on Home and Native Land, Walter Phillips Gallery, February 16 - May 11, 2008

Image credit: KC Adams, Cyborg Hybrid Candice, from the Banff Series, 2005
Digital print, artist’s proof

Curated by independent curator Ryan Rice and organized and circulated by Carleton University Art Gallery, Anthem brings together eight Canadian artists to investigate our country’s fractured understanding of Canadian nationhood. Stemming from the colonial history that pervades our textbook understanding of Canadian identity, Anthem is a response to Canada’s multiplicity that transcends the standard English/French/Aboriginal construct of Canada’s history.

Of note there is Dana Inkster’s video work that investigates the nature of being an adopted African-Canadian queer woman now living in southern Alberta; Fastwürms’s declaration of Witchcraft as a means to individual freedom within the existing theological canon; and KC Adam’s stunning cyborg hybrid portraits of Aboriginal men and women with subtle branding across their chests that read everything from “Half-breed” to “I’m white too.”

Image credit: Alisdair MacRae, The African-American Spiritual (detail), 2007
Mixed-media installation Photo: David Barbour

During the panel discussion between Rice, Inkster, academic Marcia Crosby, and moderated by Ed Poitras, it became unclear as to whether Anthem could be considered a post-colonial project, as so much of its ideas were heavily rooted in direct reference to Canada’s present colonial construct. The narrative of Canada nationalism has been seeped in a politeness that does not recognize the survivalism of its own rippled culture, namely the survival of its Aboriginal culture.

It should be noted that within Canada, First Nation artists are still considered the Other, while to the rest of the world, First Nation artists represent Canada. Though the exhibit does not focus entirely on Aboriginal artists, it does group together artists that point to a far greater inclusive identity of what it means to be stand up for a collective home and Native land.

Artists: KC Adams, Fastwürms, Cynthia Girard, Dana Inkster, Alisdair MacRae, Shirley Moorhouse, Eric Robertson, Miles Turner

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