Sunday September 24, 2017

Insurgence/Resurgence challenges conception of Indigenous art

Film still from Three Thousand, created by artist Asinnajaq.

Film still from Three Thousand, created by artist Asinnajaq. (Provided by WAG)

Listen 9:27

By Rosanna Deerchild
The room is dark and in the middle are three walls in a triangle, painted black and covered in foam. Stepping in and standing in the centre you're immediately surrounded by a loud rhythmic sound, like a heartbeat or the rush of blood through veins.

Creation Story Kenneth Lavallee

Winnipeg artist Kenneth Lavallee's painting Creation Story is featured at the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (Provided by WAG)

Then the voice of a woman speaks Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway language). It's both beautiful and overwhelming.

The language womb is part of a new exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery that aims to shift the way Canadians think about contemporary Indigenous art.

Insurgence/Resurgence brings together 29 Indigenous artists from across the country who are pushing boundaries with their art. Some pieces in the show include a traditional tattooing booth, photography, sculpture, sound installations, beading with computer parts, and performance.

My Four Grandmothers, 2017, Dee Barsy

My Four Grandmothers, 2017 by Dee Barsy will be on display at the Insurgence/Resurgence exhibit at the WAG. (Provided by WAG)

"I hope that it will radically shift ideas of what contemporary art actually is and what Indigenous people are doing in the field of contemporary art," said Dr. Julie Nagam who is co-curator of the exhibit along with Jaimie Isaac, the WAG's curator of contemporary and Indigenous art.

Insurgence/Resurgence fills 10,000 square feet of the WAG with Indigenous art2:56

The show features emerging-to-established artists including Kent Monkman, KC Adams, Joi Arcand, Scott Benesiinaabandan, and Dayna Danger.

Honouring footsteps

Nagam said that over the past 20 years, Indigenous artists, curators and scholars have begun to flourish and they want to acknowledge that growth.

Steps at Wag exhibit Insurgence/Resurgence

Joi T. Arcand installed Cree syllabics on the Winnipeg Art Gallery's main staircase. (CBC/Kim Wheeler)

"At the same time we wanted to pay respect and think about all the peoples' footsteps that came before us. As Indigenous people we've actually been resisting and pushing forward since before contact."

Insurgence/Resurgence is the WAG's largest-ever exhibition of contemporary Indigenous art and includes 12 new commissions from artists across Canadian territories and nations.

The show is open now and will be at the Winnipeg Art Gallery until spring 2018.