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Opening day of reworks

Poster on Queen Street, downtown Soo

History in the chapel

The first afternoon and evening of the reworks gathering, off to a stunning start. Couldn’t get by, though, without first noting how the more things change, the more, well…. This is a movie poster from a somewhat dated film (and concept) found on Queen Street in the downtown of the Soo. Saw this while wandering with David Garneau (our keynote tomorrow), Steve Loft (one of our curatorial organizers) Ayumi Goto (fresh from finishing the written component of her comps only yesterday), and Robinder Sehdev (who some of you will have seen published in Cultivating Canada).

But that is the small of it. The large is the site we’re on, and we have Don Jackson, a tireless worker and organizer here on the Algoma campus, to thank for the tour he gave our group members this afternoon. As always, he was engaged, articulate, and passionate about his work. And as always, a pleasure to have here as such a foundation. That’s him at the pulpit (or almost) regaling our crowd with some of the histories that came to shape Shingwauk. A reverse shot looks out at the street on a beautiful fall day, framed by a church entrance that has seen many histories pass through its doors, undoubtedly.

We finished off the tours and then moved to talks and performances that told further stories of the land and its people. A powerful way to start to comprehend a lot of the pasts that create our presents, formational in their intricacy, and sometimes ugly detail.

We close in a short bit with a celebration. A launch of the Reconcile This! issue of West Coast Line. We’ve had the online version up for a while but this is the first display and distribution of the hardcopy version, wonderful of design and powerful of content. This truly allows us new ways of considering those pasts and how they might develop our futures.

Reworks begins

The problem with the politics of reconciliation, it seems, is that we all too often begin with the expectation of too much. We should nurture a politics of an expectation of enough. For and by whom, uncertain, and necessarily so. 

The flight in from toronto island, a drift of cloud and water, accented by colours outside the spectrum of normal vision as we hovered precipitously between lakes huron and superior, a blast of oranges and reds that exceeded senses.

The first arrivals from the west coast, meeting downtown to dine and connect, a leaking out of thoughts and sensations, on what we do here, and how we can possibly proceed. Not the first day, but the eve. We pause and reflect, and think of where to begin.

 

Reconciliation through music

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpkUISUx3Lo&feature=fvwrel

This video was included in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit this past summer on Indigenous Hip-Hop Culture. To me, it confronts viewers/listeners with an audiovisual collage of representations of First Nations peoples from mainstream media, thereby both critiquing those representations and inviting reflection on how First Nations peoples and cultures are being represented in mainstream media culture today.

For more music and info, visit http://rpm.fm/music. This site features a ton of up-and-coming Indigenous hip-hop artists, including these guys (http://rpm.fm/music/download-beaatz-one-last-time/), who do a fantastic job blending political, thought-provoking lyrics with hard-hitting beats and excellent flows. One of them is only 15 years old!

How do we inspire activism?

Claire at Isuma.tv (an online Inuit media community) asks an open question to viewers of her video blog: how can we get creative in using art to inspire activism and alternative thinking? She mentions several projects in Africa and elsewhere that may be of interest to followers of ReWorks. Also, Isuma.tv in general is a fantastic media resource. Feel free to explore it!

http://www.isuma.tv/lo/en/claire-isumatv/how-do-we-inspire-activism-through-alternative-means

Eighth Fire – modeling dynamic cross-cultural dialogue

If you haven’t yet had the chance to take in CBC’s well-produced documentary series, “Eighth Fire,” I’d highly recommend watching its most recent installment, “Indigenous in the City.” With engaging host Wab Kinew facilitating, the episode takes a fascinating look at the realities of urban life, where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are living in close proximity in greater and greater numbers. This series is tremendously exciting because it provides viewers of all cultures with a focused look at various aspects of the lives of Indigenous people in Canada. Kinew talks with elders, digital artists, scholars, and rappers, all of whom weigh in on “reconciliation” as a concept and a lived reality.

http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/8thfire//2011/11/indigenious-in-the-city.html

Artistic responses to apology

As we approach the gathering in Sault Ste Marie, thought it might be worthwhile to reflect a bit on recent activity in the field of ‘reconciliation art’. Recently, at Arnica gallery in Kamloops, Chris Bose curated an exhibition that featured four artists who were/are intersested in this topic, taking it to new levels with their media and multi-media productions.  Further info here: http://www.gallerieswest.ca/events/official-denial-the-art-of-the-apology and below, the curator’s words on the show’s concept. Watch for upcoming tours to different venues.

http://youtu.be/EXfDSQXurOU

ReWorks goes live

An exciting and invigorating day, just a fortnight before we all descend on the Soo for the reconciliation work(s) in progress symposium and incubation. We tripped the lights on this reworksinprogress.ca site at noon today (PST), promoting through facebook, twitter, email lists, and all other forms of social media that came to mind. This included ripping a qr code (that’s it on the left) that we can use for site promo — feel free to distribute to interested parties — and a series of facebook ads and commentaries that will show up to those who have expressed interest in truth/recon discourses. While we don’t anticipate growing the numbers in attendance at the symposium by very much, owing to time and distance, we do hope a significant group of folks will check in to the reworks site periodically to investigate developments. This site will grow, too, during the incubation as we try to feature not just the showcased work of attending artists, but the ongoing work(s) in progress and associated questions, problems, and concerns. To that end, if folks have any thoughts toward said development, please do let us know — a comment or note would be most valuable and quite appreciated. And onward we go.

-am

This is from sootoday.com and its coverage of the recent commemoration event.

Slideshow of the reworks venues

A slide show of images from our site visit to Sault Ste Marie and the Algoma / Shingwauk venues:

shingwauk

Visiting Shingwauk and Algoma

Shingwauk Hall

Productive day today, flying into Sault Ste Marie with Steve Loft and touring Algoma University as well as the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. Such a powerful history to consider when we descend upon the site Sept 27 for the two-day symposium, followed by five days of artistic incubation. I’m particularly intrigued by how the physical space will affect the type of work and interest of the artists who will be in this short-tern residency from Sept 29-Oct 3, and what will spring from that. We also toured the downtown of the Soo and discovered a nunber of further exciting sites, not the least of which was the Windsor Hotel, used by Algoma as an off-site residency and featuring a ballroom and a decor that leaps out of a period film. We’ll reflect on all we saw and begin to determine how best to proceed with the various events as we approach the starting date.

– ashok