Beat Nation is an exhibition about cultural translation and cultural adaptation. Rather than delving into the manufactured binaries between “tradition” and “contemporary,” this conversation will instead focus on adaptation found in the rich entanglements between Indigenous and popular culture. Gerald Vizenor cites the permeability and transformation of gender, race, and even species (shape shifting), as a distinctly Indigenous aesthetic stemming from storytelling practices. The same can be said for transmutations in material practices and music. This impulse to move between categories thought immutable in dominant culture—to mix, freely sample and cite them—is rich with potential. The artists in Beat Nation are culture makers.
There remains a tendency to temporalize Aboriginal culture—to locate this culture in the past. Historically, examples of cultural hybridity were viewed as contamination or tainted goods. In the early 1900s, for example, photographer Edward S. Curtis went to great lengths to remove any modern articles from his sitters while working on his multi-volume book The North American Indian. Curtis removed watches and clothes of European origin, oftentimes re-dressing his sitters with articles from his box of “authentic” accoutrements that he carried with him. For Curtis, Aboriginal culture was unchanging, fixed in time and place. His photographs covered up the oldest tradition in the Americas: change.
This event, organized by Candice Hopkins, will feature conversations on ideas of cultural adaptation and innovation between leading artists, art historians and curators working in Canada and the US today.
Marcia Crosby taught literature and Native Studies at Vancouver Island University for sixteen years, and works as a researcher, writer and curator. One of Canada’s foremost art historians, she has written on the work of Bill Reid, Emily Carr and Rebecca Belmore, and is the author of the influential essay “Construction of the Imaginary Indian.” Crosby’s current work extends her curatorial research and writing for the exhibition Nations in Urban Landscapes (1994), focusing on Aboriginal cultural production in urban spaces for diverse publics and the formation of Aboriginal subjectivities as “indigenous” to urban life. Crosby’s focus on what is often referred to as “modern” is explored in two exhibitions she curated: Aboriginal art in the city: Fine and Popular (2008), part of Vancouver Art in the Sixties, and The Paintings of Henry Speck: Udz’stalis” (2012), co-curated with Karen Duffek. The former site is available online, and an essay for the latter is also available. Marcia Crosby has a BA in Fine Arts and English Literature, and completed her MA in Art History and Cultural Theory at UBC, where she is a PhD candidate in Art History.
Candice Hopkins (Tlingit) is an independent curator and writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has published extensively on history, art and vernacular architecture, and has lectured at venues including Witte de With, Tate Modern and the Dakar Biennale. In 2012, Hopkins presented a keynote lecture on the topic of the “sovereign imagination” for dOCUMENTA 13. Her recent projects include Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, a multi-site exhibition in Winnipeg co-curated with Steve Loft, Jenny Western and Lee-Ann Martin, and Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art—the National Gallery of Canada’s largest survey of recent Indigenous art—co-curated with Greg Hill and Christine Lalonde. With Lucia Sanroman, Irene Hoffmann and Janet Dees, she is curator of the 2014 SITE Santa Fe biennial exhibition, Unsettled Landscapes.
Mark Lanctôt is a curator at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, where he has organized solo exhibitions by Yannick Pouliot (2008), Tacita Dean (2009), Marcel Dzama (2010), Runa Islam (2010), Daniel Young & Christian Giroux (2011), Pierre Dorion (2012) and Michel de Broin (2013). He also curated a show of works from the Collection, titled Other Spaces (November 2009), and co-curated the first two editions of The Québec Triennial (2008 and 2011) and the Claude Tousignant retrospective (February 2009). Before joining the MACM in 2006, Lanctôt worked as an independent curator and was director of the Contemporary Art Galleries Association (Montréal). He holds an MA in art history from the Université de Montréal (2002) and has published in periodicals such as Canadian Art and Esse: Art + Opinions.
madeskimo is the ongoing project of Geronimo Inutiq, an Inuk electronic artist, music producer and DJ drawing on the use of instruments, digital and analogue synthesizers, as well as the remixing and processing of samples from a large variety of sources—including traditional Inuit, Aboriginal, modern electronic and urban music—in order to create an experimental platform. madeskimo has performed at numerous events and festivals, including the Igloolik Rockin’ Walrus Arts Festival, Sakahàn in Ottawa, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Four Host First Nations Pavilion, Winnipeg Aboriginal Music Week, Québec 400e Hip Hop Tout en Couleurs with Maison des cultures nomades, and Berlin’s Transmediale and Club Transmediale. His multimedia works have been shown in group exhibitions at grunt gallery in Vancouver, Musée de la civilisation in Québec City, Vancouver Art Gallery and the Cerny gallery in Berne, Switzerland, among others. He is an active member of the Montréal Aboriginal community and has studied anthropology and sociology at Concordia University.
Dylan Miner (Métis) is Associate Professor at Michigan State University, where he coordinates a new Indigenous Contemporary Art Initiative. He holds a PhD from the University of New Mexico and has published more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays and encyclopedia entries. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution). Since 2010, he has been featured in thirteen solo exhibitions and been artist-in-residence at institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes and Santa Fe Art Institute. His work has been the subject of articles in publications including ARTnews, Indian Country Today, First American Art Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian and Chicago Sun-Times. Miner is descended from the Miner-Brissette-L’Hirondelle-Kennedy families with ancestral ties to Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes, Prairies and subarctic regions.
Marianne Nicolson is an artist of Scottish and Dzawada’enuxw First Nations descent. The Dzawada’enuxw are a member tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Nicolson’s training encompasses both traditional Kwakwaka’wakw forms and culture, and Western European-based art practice. In addition to a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), she completed an MFA (1999) and an MA in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005), and will be defending her doctoral dissertation in Linguistics, Anthropology and History of Art in December 2013, all at the University of Victoria. She has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally and internationally, has published various essays and articles, and has participated in numerous speaking engagements. Her practice engages with issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in Kwakwaka’wakw cultural revitalization and sustainability.