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Crystal Z Campbell, Currency, digital video, stereo sound, 2'53" minutes, 2019


Opening Night

Wednesday April 05, 2023, 5:30 to 8:00 pm

at the SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art

in company of Sarah Nesbitt, curator of the exhibition


sh|r|ed serge - Leah Decter

Thursday 4, Friday 5 from 2pm to 6:30pm 

and Saturday 6 from 1pm to 5:30pm

Free admission, no reservation required

More information here


Guided tour

Friday May 19, 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Free, no reservation required

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Crystal Z Campbell, Jeneen Frei Njootli,

Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel, tīná gúyáńí (seth cardinal dodginghorse & Glenna Cardinal)

05.04.2023 - 20.05.2023

Curated by Sarah Nesbitt

I am going to speak, and you are going to listen.

- seth cardinal dodginghorse, opening of the South West Calgary Ring Road, 2021

The truth of settler colonialism’s(1) violent and extractive nature is both acknowledged and undercut by the artists in Truths that remain. Working across sound, film, sculpture, painting, and installation Crystal Z Campbell, Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel, tīná gúyáńí (seth cardinal dodginghorse, Glenna Cardinal), and Jeneen Frei Njootli flesh out the complex ways in which authority is established, circumvented, and refused. Thinking with and through the intimate and public spaces that violence is enacted—including direct conflict, dispossession, state recognition, and dehumanizing relationship to value that prioritizes property and currency over land and lives—they propose that perhaps the greatest threat to these systems is the sheer power of knowing who they are and what they are worth. 

In serious accessible impediments (2023), Jeneen Frei Njootli describes skinning a caribou with their brother while carrying their infant son on their back. Contextualized in the news that their son had been denied Indian Status, due to the minutia of the Indian Act, this scene, and subsequent performance—gutting a fish over the offending letter, then burning it—establishes Njootli and their son in a network of being, knowing and belonging that defies colonial limitations, while acknowledging the consequences of misrecognition by them. 

Translating to mom or mother, Inna # 2 (2019) by the parent/child collective tīná gúyáńí composed of seth cardinal dodginghorse and Glenna Cardinal, prominently displays an archival image of their great-great, and great grandmother respectively to establish links to their lands and set the parameters of their belonging. Defunct currencies (pennies) sewn into strips of wool mimic the highway that stole their home. Placed over a commissioned Pendleton blanket, telling the story of Chief Bullhead’s fight for the rights to these now monetized lands, Inna #2 ruptures the tidy narrative of progress and cooperation, proposing a concise reflection on settler colonialism’s shortsightedness and the longevity of ancestral belonging. At 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, The Siege of Kanehsatà:ke (1992) by Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel is akin to a body, confronting viewers through its scale and subjects, marking a historical moment that lingers in the corners of public memory as singular, an event, something that happened, but is now over. The willful erasure that this moment exists in the continuum of three centuries (and counting) of colonial aggression is built into the very core of colonialism’s approach.

In War Club (2000), Gabriel offers the generosity of poetry: “I watch as the/ Legacy of our/ Knowledge dwindles / down to a spark/ Ignitable only by/ My breath.” Made 8 years apart and 10 years after the standoff in The Pines, reading these works together assembles a more complete picture of the endurance it takes to live in near constant refusal. 

The evocation of breath in Gabriel’s poetry brings us into the body as one of the places resistance lives and is expressed. We can speak up and out, stand in the way, or gut a fish. While embodiment is implied in the other works, in Currency (2019), by Crystal Z Campbell, it is centralized as sound produced by movement. In this sound film, a woman braces against a white backdrop, her plaited hair adorned with wooden beads and gilded cowrie shells. Associated with wealth, the cowrie shell, once a form of valued currency, retains its symbolism. She breathes in…and out…slowly moves her head, testing the weight and texture of the shells against her skin as her movements determine and align with the weight, rhythm, and tempo of her locks. On loop in the gallery, Currency is an embodied, sonic experience that moves through several crescendos and decrescendos in 3 minute intervals. As a work of refusal, Currency offers a layered reflection on value and its assignment, and the possibility that our worth can be determined outside extractive modes of relating. 

Using rhetoric, bureaucracy, and systems of reward and punishment, settler and capitalist logics want the collective us to forget where and who we are, relying on continuous and multiple forms of disassociation to work. By standing in the truth of who they are and where they come from, these artists are not just reminding us to reflect on our positionality, but urgently need us to stay present to the truths they hold, those truths that remain in the face of great efforts to eliminate them.

Sarah Nesbitt

1 - A logic of extermination is central to settler colonialism, which is driven by the desire to inhabit and ultimately replace—rather than exploit—by death and/or mimicry the Indigenous peoples of a place. It is characterized by genocide, dispossession, and the transformation of land into property. Settler colonies include the USA, Australia, South Africa and Israel. In Canada artists like the Group of Seven were employed to promote the idea of terra nullius, or “no-man’s land” through depictions of wild, untamed landscapes emptied of all inhabitants. In settler colonies, colonialism is ongoing.

Guide audio
00:00 / 05:51

We invite you to listen to or read these few words, as a guide to help ground you and create space for looking and being with the artworks in this exhibition. A transcription is available here.


Crystal Z Campbell, is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of Black, Filipinx, and Chinese descents. Campbell’s works use underloved archival material to reframe historical gaps and excavate public secrets—fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Honors include a Guggenheim Award, Creative Capital Award and Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship, and they have screened/exhibited internationally. Campbell is Visiting Associate Professor of Art/Media Study at University at Buffalo, and lives in New York and Oklahoma.


Campbell’s recent works use underloved archival material to consider historical gaps in the narrative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks' “immortal” cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification.


Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel is a visual artist, documentarian, human & environmental rights activist well-known to the public when she was chosen by the People of the Longhouse and her community of Kanehsatà:ke to be their spokesperson during the 1990 “Oka” Crisis.


She is a recent graduate from the New York Film Academy in documentary filmmaking, providing her with new tools in her advocacy. She participated in DOC NYC in November 2021 with her first film: Strong Spirits on the issue of Indian Residential School in Canada.


Since 1990 she has advocated for the rights to self-determination of Indigenous peoples and has worked diligently to sensitize the public on the issues and realities of Indigenous peoples. Ms Gabriel is a Steering Committee member with Indigenous Climate Action addressing the needs and solutions to the violations of Indigenous peoples’ human rights, the climate crisis and environmental rights.

Jeneen Frei Njootli is a Two-spirit queer Vuntut Gwitchin, Czech and Dutch artist who lives and works in their home territory of Old Crow, Yukon. They have gotten to work with many mentors and knowledge holders over the years in addition to holding an MFA from the University of British Columbia and a BFA from Emily Carr University.


Invested in Indigenous sovereignty, decolonization and concerned with the production, dissemination and embodiment of images, Frei Njootli’s practice takes the forms of performance, sound, textiles, images, collaboration, workshops and feral scholarship.

(seth cardinal dodginghorse & Glenna Cardinal)

tīná gúyáńí (meaning Deer Road in Tsuut'ina) are a two-person artist collective from Guts’ists’i (Calgary) that was started in 2019 and is composed of mother and child Glenna Cardinal and seth cardinal dodginghorse. Their work blends traditional Tsuut’ina/Niitsitapi materials and concepts within a contemporary framework. In 2014 they were forcibly removed from their homes and ancestral land on the Tsuut’ina Nation Reserve for the construction of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, a multilane highway.


tīná gúyáńí’s body of work explores their family’s history and relationship to land, and how these were affected by the political, environmental, and psychological impacts of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road. These explorations have taken the shape of installation, sculpture, performance, painting, photography, digital media, film, and sound. Their creative process involves learning from Elders within their community and researching within institutions such as museums, archives, and libraries.


Sarah Nesbitt is a cultural worker, writer and independent curator based in Tio'tia:ke/Montréal. From 2016-2018 she was the Assistant Curator at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art on Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg. Between 2018 and 2021 she worked with Noor Bhangu and Mariana Muñoz Gomez on window winnipeg, a 24 hour project space in Winnipeg, creating financial stability and collaborating to bring national and international artists to a tiny window in the heart of the Exchange District.


Sarah is passionate about creating opportunities for engaging with critical artistic practice that offer alternatives to the normative forces that structure our daily lives under capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, and white supremacy.

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