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Foreman Gallery: Decolonize Me

 

Copy of SAM 0176 dcolonisez-moi phto 1LENNOXVILLE: At a time when we are witnessing a proliferation of manifestations by Aboriginal communities against Bill C-45, presented by the Harper government, throughout Canada and, also in Quebec, under the slogan: "Idle No more", which have resulted in hunger strikes, the most famous and the most controversial being that of Theresa Spence, Chief of the First Nation tribe, at Attawapiskat, the Foreman Gallery of Bishop's University presents a contemporary and moving exhibition by Aboriginal artists entitled: "Decolonize-me" (January 9 to March 16, 2013). These artists reject, in particular, this approach of colonizing conciliation by the governments which seems to still be existing today, even in our democratic society.

"Decolonize-me", a preamble to the poster designed by Jordan Bennett (Sovereignty Performance-2009), a first impression of the exhibition seeks to make "visible the history and heritage of our common colonial past, while stressing the resilience of Copy of SAM 0175 dcolonisez-moi photo 3these communities and recognizing the politics of resistance that has supported these indigenous cultures, the underlining strength of these Aboriginal communities which still exists today". Through art in general, this exhibition strives to create some form of dialogue of reconciliation with Canadians - "the final objective being recognition of a permanent social, political, economic and cultural sovereignty for indigenous people".

Six Aboriginal artists have lent themselves to using art to express their respective individual philosophies, in a collective quest to shed light on the reality of their living conditions, which are still much too precarious. The goal of these six artists is to keep us mindful of their historical background and of their often painful existence; many of these issues were endured through centuries of wars, persecutions and discriminations. Works created by Sony ASSU, Jordan Bennett, Cheryl l'Hirondelle, Nigit' stil Norbert, Barry Pottle and Bear Witness reveal "New Native Art" Copy of SAM 0172 dcolonisez-moi photo 2which combines, in harmony and authenticity, both visual and written forms of art which will endure for a long time, new creations that will transcend generations of natives. Their problems with assertion of their identity are, in the forefront of each exhibited work, a heartfelt cry with an echo that can be faintly heard can be made heard only with difficulty, in the midst of the din of today's society. They must find a way to preserve their ancestral heritage, while opening up to the cultural spheres of today; a world that could pose to them many dilemmas of acceptance and public recognition. All of these problems will disappear within an effective process of decolonization.

This exhibition, launched in the presence of Heather Igloliorte, guest-curator and of Vicky Chainey Gagnon, director/curator of the Foreman Gallery (catalogue available Copy of SAM 0179 dcolonisez-moi photo 4for $20), is ultimately, a generous invitation to the Québécois public, which will enlighten visitors to the Aboriginal plight of yesterday and today. These Aboriginal artists have a place on the non-indigenous cultural chess-board. "Decolonize-me" is in fact a variation of the film Super Size Me - 2004 by director Morgan Spurlock, which denounced the abuse and over consumption of genetically altered products.

We must keep in mind the mission of the Foreman Gallery which remains a venue where knowledge is shared, knowledge "relating to contemporary art and the relations that this discipline maintains within the community".

Copy of SAM 0181 dcolonisez-moi photo 5Information: www.foreman.ubishops.ca or 819-822-9600 extension 2260
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Photo 1: The ancestral habits remain...
Photo 2: Exhibition poster.
Photo 3: An Act of the Imperial Parliament of 1876.
Photo 4: Indigenous works.
Photo 5: Artwork created by Sony Assu
Photos: Myriam Sainson

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