The Land Sings / La terre chante
27.10.2018 - 02.02.2019
Artist Talk: 26.10.2018, 7pm
Vernissage: 27.10.2018, 7pm
Performance: 27.10.2018, 4pm
Ursula Johnson with ODAYA
Hydro QC Park, 50 St. Catherine Street West
In Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante, multidisciplinary Mi’kmaq artist Ursula Johnson reflects on the trauma that the land, the waterways—all life forces— have endured at the hands of humans. Reciprocity is no longer practiced, we take more than the land can give. We have been manipulating the land’s surface, plant and animal life for centuries and in our hunger for natural resources, we “have shaped the land to the extent that has un-steadied the balance that nature once had.”1 Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante is conceived of as an apology to the land.
A series of place-based collaborations that began in 2013, the durational performances enact the Indigenous process of Songlines, a means to demarcate territories and paths across the land. In the context of Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyaang / Montréal, Johnson will work with the Indigenous women’s collective, ODAYA, to develop a new songline. Re-purposing maps from Natural Resources of Canada, the songline will be traced as a path across the National Topographic System and into musical notation.
On October 27th, five women, from different nations and of mixed heritage, will come together to sing on this unceded and contested territory to bear testament to the diversity of Indigeneity, the legibility of the urban experience, and the tenacity of survivance.2 The land is being re-reconciled: rematriation is happening. This coming together of song, of Indigenous nationhood, embodied space, and illuminated histories 3 is precisely what writer and scholar Mishuana Goeman would describe as the binding of delicate relationships and “the difference between loss and continuity.”4
In confronting the capitalist and colonial structures that perpetuate the loss and erasure of Indigenous stories and spaces, Johnson also confronts the ways in which those very structures serve to obscure the catastrophically damaging impact of our living practices on the land. In what may be considered a gesture of reconciliation with the land, the collective action of filling the wounds inflicted by processes of industrialization and relentless resource extraction will take place through song, but the endurance performance Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante also speaks to Indigenous presence and resurgence. As Julie Nagam has described, "Indigenous bodies have material consequences in the politics of recognition and sovereignty because these bodies hold the concealed geographies.”5
In the gallery at SBC, instances of Ke'tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante that have taken place across Turtle Island will be gathered together for the first time in an exhibition and listening station that opens to the public on Saturday, October 27th, 7pm and remains on view until January 12th, 2019.
The exhibition Ke’tapekiaq Ma’qimikew: The Land Sings / La terre chante
takes place within the framework of SBC’s 2018 Focus Programme,
after composer Julius Eastman’s 'Colors (for 14 women’s voices)'
and the practices of 'study' and 'non-extractive listening'.
1 Ursula Johnson.
2 As theorized by Indigenous scholar, Gerald Vizenor.
3 Nagam, Julie. "The Occupation of Space: Creatively Transforming Indigenous Living Histories in Urban Spaces." Land|slide: Possible Futures (2015): 148.
4 Goeman, Mishuana. "(Re)Mapping Indigenous Presence on the Land in Native Women's Literature." American Quarterly 60, no. 2 (2008): 300.
5 Nagam, Julie. “(Re)mapping the Colonized Body: The Creative Interventions of Rebecca Belmore in the Cityscape.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 35, no. 4 (2011): 148.