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Rebecca Belmore, Cecile Brass, Dana Claxton, James Luna
From May 7th 2011 to June 11th 2011

Curator : Lori Blondeau
This spring, OPTICA begins a series of exhibitions dealing with the gallery’s history by broaching the culture of artist groups and art centres. This project, curated by Lori Blondeau, will present a selection of archival documents (videos and photographs) relating the history of TRIBE, A Centre for Evolving Aboriginal Media, Visual and Performing Arts, as well as a performance by Cecile Brass. Since its inception, the artist collective has publicly raised highly relevant questions of identity, territory, and politics regarding the status of native peoples and First Nations’ place in our history.

Dana Claxton, "Buffalo Bone China", 1997.
This performance/installation – whose title refers to the historical use of buffalo bones to make fine china – is centered around an experimental video metaphorically recalling British colonial practices that resulted in the decimation of the buffalo, and the devastating effects it had upon First Nations people who relied heavily on the animal for their survival. «Buffalo Bone China» was the first in a series of ongoing projects that explore time from a First Nations’ perspective, among other things.

"High Tech Storytellers : An Interdisciplinary Arts Festival", 2000.
Including residencies, panel discussions, installations, performances, and cabaret, the festival – hosted by Tribe in Saskatoon from May 22nd to May 27th, 2000 – explored the central theme of contemporary artists who use storytelling with technology as a creative medium. Invited artists included Rebecca Belmore, James Luna, Edward Poitras, Lori Wiedenhammer, and three Saskatchewan-based artists Cheli Nighttraveller, Carolyn Mieli and Steve Heimbecker. The documents presented recall Belmore’s “The Indian Factory” and Luna’s “The Chapel of Sacred Colors”.

Guillermo Gómez-Peña & James Luna, "La Nostalgia Remix", 2010.
This is the latest installment in the “The Shame-man meets El Mexican't” series, an ongoing project (since in early 1990s) in which the artists – using performance, writing, photography and video – consistently challenge assumptions and lazy thinking about ethnicity and culture. “La Nostalgia Remix”, launched in 2007, is a series of live performances using nostalgia as a style, a form of resistance and reinvention, exploring its symbolic and iconographic dimensions both on the Native American “rez” and in the Chicano “barrio”.
Due to unfortunate circumstances beyond our control, this piece is not showcased in the gallery. Thank you for your understanding.

Cecile Brass, "The Re-Birthing Project", 2009/2011.
Live performance on Saturday, May 7th at 4:30pm. All are welcome!
A womb reconstructed on a large scale provides the foundation for a retelling of a personal narrative about the artist, the birth of her three sons, her culture, her family and her community. The work incorporates theatrical and audio art elements into the creation of a performance that, on the surface, tells the story of the birth of a child, but really touches upon universal and shared experiences within our communities.

Editing : Geneviève Bédard

Tribe gratefully acknowledges the support of The Canada Council for the Arts, The Saskatchewan Arts Board, SaskCulture and SaskLotteries.

TRIBE, A Center for Evolving Aboriginal Media, Visual and Performing Arts

Curator Lori Blondeau, a performance artist based in Saskatoon, is a member of George Gordon First Nation. She teaches art history at the University of Saskatchewan, where she is also a PhD candidate. Her work – currently focusing on memory and home, displacement and (de)colonization – has been exhibited worldwide. In 1994, Blondeau co-founded (with Bradlee LaRocque) TRIBE, A Centre for Evolving Aboriginal Media, Visual and Performing Arts. As an artist-run-centre focused on the presentation of contemporary Aboriginal art in a variety of institutional and public spaces, it orients its projects and programing to address social and political issues that are of concern to national and international First Nations artists, curators and critics, all the while providing the local community with various lectures and workshops.

Born in Upsala, Ontario, Rebecca Belmore is an Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) artist currently living in Vancouver. She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Since 1987, her multidisciplinary work has addressed history, place and identity through the media of sculpture, video, installation, and performance. Belmore’s work has appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions, both nationally and internationally; she was Canada’s official representative at the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Cecile Brass is a member of the Peepeekisis First Nation residing in Regina. Her involvement in the arts began with the theatre troupe Red Tattoo Ensemble and dancing in international pow-wows as part of a dance company. After many stays in Europe, Brass lived in Taiwan for 5 years, where she became passionate about the universal Indigenous experience and the effects of colonization, an interest that has led her to study Political Science at the University of Regina. She gave her first performance art piece, “The Re-Birthing Project”, at the Sâkêwêwak Storytellers Festival in 2009.

Dana Claxton is of Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux ancestry and her family reserve is Wood Mountain, in Southwest Saskatchewan. She is an interdisciplinary artist who works in film, video, photography, single and multi channel installation and performance art. Investigating beauty, the body, the socio-political and the spiritual, her work is held in public collections and has been shown/screened internationally. Among her numerous academic engagements, Claxton most recently held the Ruth Wynn Woodward Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University (2009/10).

James Luna (Puyukitchum/Luiseño) resides on the La Jolla Indian Reservation in San Diego County, California. He received a BFA from UC Irvine and a MS in counseling from San Diego State University. In addition to working as a full-time academic counselor at Palomar College and teaching art part-time at UC San Diego, he has an installation/performance and conceptual art practice that spans over 30 years. Employing a variety of media such as made and found objects, costumes, music, video, and slides, he creates environments that function as both aesthetic and political statements.