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Winnipeg
Luther Konadu
Shards at Gallery 1C03
November 21, 2017

The archive as display takes historical material that is often hidden in stasis or completely forgotten, and makes it actively present. Shards, the group exhibition currently on view at Gallery 1CO3, is a clear instance of historical information being resuscitated and brought to the fore. The archive in question is a collection of ceramic works culled by curator (and former Akimblog contributor) Jenny Western in collaboration with the Manitoba Museum and the University of Winnipeg. The unearthed ceramic works here have been traced back to as far as two thousand years ago in the region now known as Manitoba. These re-presented vessels create tangible glimpses into a pre-colonial time when Indigenous peoples crafted provisional pieces of technology from the land. Having existed through generations of harsh weathers, the assembled pots and shards reveal a tenaciousness in their craft as well as with the land. The pots are known to have been made by women as utensils for feeding their families and communities. In thinking about the significance of these vessels to the women at that time, Western brings together artists Jaime Black, KC Adams, Wabiska Maengun (Niki Little), and Lita Fontaine to elaborate on these found objects. The outcome is a show that serves as a bridge between the distant past and the continuation of a lineage.



Jaime Black and KC Adams performance at exhibition opening

This bridging is echoed in Black and Adams’ intimate ritual performance during the exhibition’s opening. The two artists inscribe clay from the land onto their bodies and embrace in meditation as though to affirm how their collective histories and memories are entangled with these clay remnants. Black offers photo documents of an offsite water ceremonial that show her along with Adams mirroring their contemplative contact with clay, the land, and each other. In addition, Adams presents an installation in the gallery incorporating pot pieces and a video stuffed in one of the pots filled with black rice. The video is a document of a water gathering where the clay pots were fired by community members. Their vocal sounds sweep through the otherwise static gallery.

Maengun’s contribution includes a woven sack akin to those used in moulding the found pottery. In it is a cut-out photographic image of a female figure – possibly Maengun’s – with what looks like her child in her arms. This gesture imagines a matrilineal relationship with those women who originally used these tools. To a great degree, this is a genealogical show and it is concerned with the preservation of community and culture. Fontaine’s contribution speaks to women in Indigenous communities as conduits of embodied intergenerational knowledge. She depicts the backs of seven female figures on a tipi cover with shards of crystals hanging off a beaded string. The crystals are emblematic of the implicit knowledge Indigenous women carry from generation to generation.

In addition to its use of the archive as an informational site, Shards also considers the gravity of land – land as a personification of a distant past unparalleled to Canada 150. In doing so, the exhibition identifies and tracks histories that aren’t always visible, but also stabilizes a view toward the future.


Shards continues until December 2.
Gallery 1CO3: https://www.uwinnipeg.ca/art-gallery/index.html
The gallery is accessible.


Luther Konadu makes things such as photographs, paintings, and prints which he occasionally calls art. He self-describes as a transcriber. He contributes content to a publication called Public Parking. Most days his favourite colour is green and one of his goals in life is to never be an art brat. He is Akimblog’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @public_parking.

 

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