'Disposable Red Woman' art lays corpse in Calgary streets to depict 'brutal reality' facing Indigenous women
Guerrilla project appears at unannounced locations throughout the city and captures people's reactions on film
A bloodied sheet shrouds what looks to be a dead body, laid atop an Indigenous blanket in the middle of a busy downtown Calgary avenue.
It's a graphic piece, evoking emotions that range from shock and discomfort to indifference from pedestrians as they pass by.
The display is part of the Disposable Red Woman project, which is equal parts art and social experiment.
Spearheaded by artists Destin Running Rabbit and Iman Bukhari, the provocative project aims to get people to recognize "the brutal reality" facing many Indigenous communities — and asks them what they're doing about it, said Running Rabbit.
Running Rabbit, 25, said he built this project around his own childhood experiences while growing up on the Siksika reserve.
"I noticed a lot of the women in my community, just a lot of bad things would happen to them. I guess I always felt helpless in the matter," said the Blackfoot member.
"It's just trying to help and get the word out about this thing that a lot of Natives have to grow up with that a lot of Canadians don't really see or care about."
Positive response from First Nations women
The guerrilla project appears at unannounced locations throughout Calgary and capture's people's reactions on film.
Running Rabbit acknowledged some people may find the art offensive but said the response from Indigenous women in particular has been strongly positive.
"A lot of the First Nations women I've been hearing back from, they're thanking me," he said. "I just wanna get their stories known, really."
Bukhari said the project consulted with Indigenous women prior to going public, and as a precaution, volunteers carrying warning signs have been positioned around the installation spots to avoid triggering people.
Bukhari hopes to take the project to different cities across the country for Canada 150 as a kind of "wake-up call," to stir conversation and mobilize people to take action.