jiigbiig – at the edge where the water and land meet
May 6 – June 24, 2012
jiigbiig -at the edge where the water and land meet
Featuring work by Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Regional Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders
Opening Reception Sunday, May 6, 2012, 2 – 4 pm
The exhibition jiigbiig: at the edge where the water and the land meet creates a collaborative forum to explore the importance of clean water. In the contemporary world, clean water has come to be a vitally important issue. A recent United Nation General Assembly declared that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right; at the same time, there are reports of 133 Indigenous communities across Canada who do not have drinkable water due to contamination.
Water features prominently in many traditional stories – in the earthdiver creation stories and in the long migration stories where anishinaabe followed within the various rivers and lakes throughout the Great Lakes region. This exhibition begins with a creation story, one collected by Basil Johnston and included in his book Ojibway Heritage.
The exhibition jiigbiig includes work by Vanessa Dion Fletcher, regional Elders and traditional knowledge holders gathered in the process of researching the importance of clean water. Dion Fletcher is an emerging artist working in Toronto and is of Potawatomi and Lenape ancestry. Her work explores the notion of communication without words. In her project Writing Landscape, she developed a technique of marking copper plates by wearing them on her feet and walking to explore the significance of the body, memory and geography.
To present the stories from the Elders and traditional knowledge holders a format was created to work with the text and the images selected. The stories connect us to the importance of water in a way that emphasizes respect, relationships, responsibility, and reciprocity. Because of the nature of working with Elders and traditional knowledge holders, the exhibit is set up so that it is a “work in progress” and stories and sound can be added as they are collected.
It was the anishinaabe Elder Peter O’Chiese who remarked that it was our Indigenous ancestors who left “tracks” along trails across Turtle Island for subsequent generations to discover, work with and to disseminate forward to generations that will follow. The word for this process is babaamikawe, which means, “to go about making tracks.” The work of the Vanessa Dion Fletcher and the Elders and traditional knowledge holders in jiigbiig show that they have accepted the responsibility of taking their turn to leave their own tracks — signs for the next generation so they can see, feel, hear, and understand how it is that the Indigenous peoples of this generation sought to understand their world, to engage in it and transform it through their art forms. Their work engages with the concept of babaamikawe – they are leaving their own tracks through the production of stories through various visual art forms to leave for future generations.
Curated by William Kingfisher