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Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew – Biography

Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew is Cree/French Métis born in McLennan, Alberta in 1958. He graduated in performance art and installation from Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Vancouver, British Columbia in 1985. He was Director, Exhibition and Performance Coordinator, and Board Member for the Pitt Gallery in Vancouver (1988-1990) and worked as Adult Education Instructor for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver teaching Contemporary Native Cultural Studies, College Preparation English, and Native Studies (1990-1991). Maskegon-Iskwew was accepted in the two year Equity Internship Program at the Canada Council for the Arts in Ottawa, where he received training in the Media Arts and Visual Arts Sections, and the Art Bank (1992–1994). Two residencies in the internship also included work with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College and Circle Vision Arts Corporation in Regina, and the Aboriginal Film and Video Art Alliance at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

He then became Program Coordinator, Acting Executive Director, and Assistant Editor of the Talking Stick First Nations Arts Magazine for Circle Vision Arts Corporation (1994-1995) and went on to develop the position of Production Manager for SOIL Digital Media Production Suite at Neutral Ground Artist-Run Centre (1996-1998). Maskegon-Iskwew also worked as the Web Editor for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (2000–2004).

Maskegon-Iskwew has participated on many panels and symposia addressing issues of Aboriginal equity, participation and representation in cultural industries and new media. He has also been a member of numerous arts juries and arts advisory committees including the Canada Council for the Arts juries for Media Arts Festivals and Presentation Projects twice each. From 1999 to 2003 he was a member of the Canada Council Inter-Arts Office Advisory Committee and in 2001 he was a member of the Canada Council Media Arts Internet Dissemination Working Group. In 2002 he attended the Banff New Media Institute’s Interactive Screen project development lab for the second time. That year he was also awarded the CanWest Global Fellowship by the Banff New Media Institute. In March 2003 Maskegon-Iskwew was a facilitator and researched best practices for on-line Aboriginal community development at the Second Annual Connecting Aboriginal Canadians Forum in Ottawa presented by the Aboriginal Canada Portal Working Group, and was invited as a presenter to the Third Annual Forum in March 2004.

His critical writing has been published in Mix - the magazine of artist-run culture, and Fuse Magazine. He has articles in the anthologies The Multiple and Mutable Subject: Postmodern Subjectivity and the Internet edited by Vera Lamecha and Reva Stone (1999), and Caught in the Act: An anthology of performance art by Canadian women edited by Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder (2004). His first fictional work Cannibals was presented by the Art Gallery of Calgary as part of the Storybook Story project curated by Luanne Martineau in 2002. New articles will be appearing in the anthologies Transmission, Technology and Tradition, and INDIANacts: An Anthology of First Nations Performance Art, and an anthology based on the Tiré à part/Off Printing conference. He is editor of the online Aboriginal arts magazine ConunDrum that premiered in July 2005 produced by Urban Shaman Aboriginal Artist-Run Centre in Winnipeg as well as rapporteur for the online performance art discussion After the Facts produced by Fado Performance Art in Toronto.

At the Pitt Gallery in Vancouver he presented a wide variety of visual art works, performance art, new music, film, video and spoken word. In 1990 he was part of the technical facilitation team for the Edge 90 International Performance, Installation, and Video Biennale in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK, directed by Rob La Frenais, for artists including Marina Abramovic (Dragon Heads) and Isaac Julien (Looking for Langston). In 1995 he co-curated with Debra Piapot the exhibition nanâtawihitowin-âcimowina (Healing Stories): Three Collaborative First Peoples Performances at the Walter Phillips Gallery in Banff. While Production Manager for SOIL Digital Media Production Suite at Neutral Ground he facilitated the presentation of numerous artist’s works including Sheila Urbanoski and Bill Burns, and was web editor and performance artist in the collaborative web-integrated performance and installation project Mexterminator II directed by Guillermo Gomez Peña and Roberto Sifuentes with the Red Tattoo Ensemble. In 2002 he curated Signified: Ritual Language in First Nations Performance Art with the performance art work of Reona Brass and Bently Spang at Sâkêwêwâk Artists’ Collective in Regina.

He has created video-integrated performance works including Mestih'kusowin (Holocaust), Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, (1990); Sakehi'towin Onipowak, Western Front Gallery, Vancouver, (1992); and Hunter, Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia (1993). He was artistic director, writer, and producer for isi-pîkiskwêwin-ayapihkêsîsak (Speaking the Language of Spiders), a 10-artist collaboration to produce a World Wide Web site art work, subsequently exhibited at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris in the group exhibition Cyclic curated by Sara Diamond, and most recently at the Walter Phillips Gallery in the 2003 group exhibition BACK/FLASH curated by Dana Claxton. He has also worked as artistic director for the development of community-based media art projects with groups such as sex trade workers and youth at risk for Common Weal in Regina (1998-1999) and advocated for increased support for community/artist collaborations at St. Norbert Arts Centre (1999-2000). His visual art has been exhibited in the group exhibition Exposed: The Aesthetics of Aboriginal Erotic Art curated by Lee-Ann Martin and Morgan Wood for the MacKenzie Art Gallery in 1999. Maskegon-Iskwew created new digital work for Nation to Nation's group creation and community interaction projects CyberPowWow 2 (1999) and CPW2K (2001) curated by Skawennati Tricia Fragnito and Archer Pechawis.

Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew’s most recent project was the on-line Aboriginal media arts research and creative community development project Drumbeats to Drumbytes that began touring at OBORO in Montreal, February 2005, in the group exhibition Language of Intercession curated by Steve Loft for the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 2003. The project development timeline (1994-2005) is linked here.

In May 2005 Maskegon-Iskwew was awarded a two year Aboriginal curatorial residency grant by the Canada Council for the Arts to take up the position of New Media Curator at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery to pursue his curatorial theme Storm Spirits: The Cultural Ecology of Aboriginal New Media Art. As part of the residency he is also editor and design director of Urban Shaman's Conundrum Online Aboriginal Arts Magazine that launched in July 2005.

He has recently completed a contract to research and develop the corporate objects and bylaws for the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective, produced their current website including a collaborative TikiWiki workspace for members, and is assisting in coordinating a major national gathering for the organization in 2006.

Maskegon-Iskwew also participated in panel discussions and presented a paper at the New Forms Festival 5: Ecologies conference in Vancouver in September 2005. He also attended the new media roundtable AURA: A Collaborative Spaces Initiative, Structuring the Artist-University Research Alliance convened by Zainub Verjee of the Canada Council Media Arts Section on December 5 and 6, 2005.

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Six hundred word biography and bibiography