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Origins - 1994




2003-2005 - Language of Intercession: Native Media and New Media Artists


Language of Intercession: Native Media and New Media Artists, on view at the Art Gallery of Hamilton until July 20th, 2003 examines Native lens-based artistic production and offers the viewer a new Native aesthetic. Artists featured in the exhibition are: KC Adams, Dana Claxton, Stephen Foster, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew and Archer Pechawis.

The exhibition is curated by Steve Loft.

"Some of the best new media work being done by Canadian artists is represented in this exhibition," says AGH Chief Curator Shirley Madill. "These artists courageously transform and launch traditional symbols associated with their culture into the world of twenty-first century cyborg culture."

By combining diverse mediums - including kinetic electronics and computer interfaces - KC Adams creates physical and virtual installations. Her installation, Bleach Series: Cyborg Living Space II, invites viewers to remove their shoes and enter the installation, an idealized pure white living space with shag area rug, chairs, entertainment unit and six cyborgs (sculptures) which turn on depending where the viewer sits. "The work is created to be aesthetically beautiful and palatable to the audience," says Adams. "However, I will be sterilizing it to coincide with Martha Stewart's decorating sensibilities."

Dana Claxton's large-scale installation Rattle is a visual prayer that combines sound, form, colour and content. Using sounds and images of rattles with horsehair and beadwork, Claxton combines aboriginal and electronic technologies to create a sanctified space in which the viewer can engage with the artwork on many levels. "Spiritually, the work considers the Lakota belief of 'The Heart of Everything That Is,'" says Claxton. "The above skyworld is mirrored on the below earth world and that everything you need to know is in the sky. The doubling of images extends the idea that creation on earth and in the sky mirror each other and that existence is a continuum - there is no ending."

The centre panel of Stephen Foster's Lost Agenda, a trio of backlit digital prints shows a suit-clad figure sporting a Victorian-era paper Indian mask, holding a shotgun in one hand and a Canadian flag in the other. "The Victorian mask is a reference to the historical romanticization of the Indian and the gun and the suit to more contemporary media constructions of the Indian-ness," says Foster. "The pose has connotations to those plastic Indian toys with the bow or the spear held high over the head, which is a historical reference based in fear and subsequently used to dehumanize the Indian as a perpetrator of violence.

80 Minutes, 80 Movies, 80s Music, a web-based digital-video project, features 80 popular songs of the 1980s, each edited down to one minute and sung by a member of the public who came of age in the 1980s during the height of the music video. According to artist artist Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, the 1980s was "that magical era when music videos seemed to be heading in the direction of the short film, rather than the long commercial."

Archer Pechawis explores living with HIV/AIDS and chance transmissions through the interactive Flash game and installation BigRedDice, in which visitors are encouraged to roll the virtual dice and "win" different rewards for different rolls. As they navigate the possibilities in the site, they meet an ever-changing cast of characters and information.

With Drum Beats to Drum Bytes, Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew uses new technologies to support, strengthen and enrich Native cultural communities by establishing a nation-wide computer-based multimedia telecommunications network for Aboriginal and Indigenous artists working in digital media. This network allows artists to discuss such issues as establishing cultural protocols in creating new media works or using Indigenous cultural material.

Opening Reception: Thursday, June 12, 2003 7:30 - 9:30 pm
Related Programming:
Panel Discussion: Media Matters: Contemporary Art and New Technology
Saturday, June 14, 11 am, Art Gallery of Hamilton

In conjunction with the exhibition The Language of Intercession: Native Media and New Media Artists, exhibition curator Steve Loft moderates a panel examining the mediums of video, digital manipulation, web-based and new media installation art. Panelists include artists Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, David Rokeby and Richard Fung, and Derrick de Kerckhove, Director of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.


National Tour

A collaborative publication between the Walter Phillips Gallery and the Art Gallery of Hamilton is currently under production and will be included with the exhibition.

To Be Presented in Montreal at OBORO
in collaboration with Dazibao and Articule
produced by the Art Gallery of Hamilton
February 19 to March 19, 2005