- art gallery
- Save The Evidence
This exhibition reflects on Onkwehon:we matrilineal society, while presenting the impact and contributions Onkwehon:we women have had from Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Six Nations of the Grand River and Wahta Mohawks. Sometimes greatness is recognized by worldly achievements, accolades and trail blazing efforts. Not to say that achieving greatness through these means aren’t commendable, but what about those women who not only were the first in their respected fields but were doing everyday things that many of us take for granted?
Onkwehon:we women have always held a high level of respect amongst their peers. In Onkwehon:we society the women are the life-givers for future generations. It is also through the women, that the children receive their nation and clan identity. Some women also hold high ranks in political society as their maternal rights to choose a chief and equally could dispose of his chieftainship. It has also been referenced that Onkwehon:we women were the true feminists.
In this exhibit, women are recognized for paving the way for the future. Highlighting achievements that some women made on the world stage, but more importantly contributions these women made during their lifetime to their community.
Michael Belmore, Hannah Claus, Patricia Deadman, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Keesic Douglas, Melissa General
Using wampum as a mnemonic device, leaders and keepers of the belt would ‘read the talk’ embedded in wampum belts to establish and renew agreements between Nations.
The Dish with One Spoon treaty and belt was negotiated between Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabeg Nations in the seventeenth and eighteenth century ensuring the sustenance of the ‘bowl’ or land. The Dish with One Spoon treaty and belt inspired this exhibition.
Reading the Talk presents the artwork of six contemporary Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee artists. These artworks engage in critical conversations about relationship to land, region and territory, while presenting distinct Indigenous perspectives on wampum diplomacy and treaties. Vanessa Dion Fletcher’s Relationship or Transaction (2014) reconfigures the 1764 Covenant Chain wampum (a key agreement between Indigenous and British nations) using five dollar bills emphasizing the opposing perspectives of a treaty. Similarly, Michael Belmore replaces customary whelk and quahog shells for copper and aluminum beads in his sculpture Bridge (2014) using binary code as symbolic language. Keesic Douglas’s photo portrait series Trade Language (2013) presents diplomacy in subtle forms of gestural communication.
Drawing from personal experiences of place Patricia Deadman’s photo piece Giardino dei Semplici (2013) and Melissa General’s video Satahónhsatat (2014) suggest a reflection on the connection and value of land. Hannah Claus’ installation we are all one (2014) and Michael Belmore’s Investment (2011) raises the importance of interrelationships between land, cosmology and all living things. Much like wampum diplomacy and belt making, these art works relate discord and accord across time, mediums and epistemologies.
This exhibition invites the audience to reflect on their connection to treaties and lands in the region now referred to as Ontario.
Organized and circulated by The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in collaboration with Museum London, Art Gallery of Peterborough and MacLaren Art Centre. Curated by Lisa Myers and Rachelle Dickenson.