Jeff Thomas, Richard Poafpybitty (Pink Panther), Comanche/Omaha, Pigment print on archival paper, 1983, photo: Courtesy of the artist
Exhibition opening Wednesday, May 22nd, 5-7pm
The history of Indigenous Peoples performing cultural dances and practices for international and colonial audiences is an important part of Indigenous art, generally, and performance art, specifically. The Indigenous performers known as ‘Indians’ faced the conundrum of maintaining traditional cultural practices by performing them on stage while also having that performance fulfill the desires of a colonial imaginary. In Sovereign Acts, the artists contend with the legacy of colonial representations. Drawing on the depiction of the imaginary Indian – the ahistorical, pre-contact ‘primitivism’ in popular and mass culture – they recover and construct new ways of performing the complexity of Indigenous cultures for a contemporary art audience. Their work returns to the multi- levelled history of ‘Performing Indian’ to recuperate the erased and objectified performer as an ancestor, an artist, and an Indigenous subject.
Sovereign Acts is organized and circulated with the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. The exhibition will be presented until July 21, 2019. Admission is free and is open to all.