Research in Art, Shows in Asia, Europe, & Americas

Media art shows in Canada, USA, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Russia and France at Research in Art.

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Graham Thompson revisited his medicine wheel media art shows in Europe, Asia and the Americas at the Research in Art Project Room in Ottawa Canada on October 8 2014.

FROM THE RESEARCH IN ART WEB SITE: RIA Salon 53 features media artist Graham Thompson who will talk about his 2005 tour of Asia on October 8 2014. With the launch of the North-South-East-West project in 2003 ( see the interactive medicine wheel at medicine-wheel.co ) Thompson received invitations to exhibit his work in North America, Asia and Europe. His 45 minute talk on October 8th 2014 will include a travelogue of shows in Canada, USA, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Russia and France, as well as a guided tour of the North-South-East-West interactive video, with emphasis on the relevance of medicine wheel teachings to contemporary life styles by inter-relating the following 5 concepts:
– the 4 cardinal directions (East, South, West, North),
– the 4 stages of life (birth, youth, adulthood, old age),
– the 4 challenges of life (survival, vision, path, wisdom),
– the 4 positions of the sun (sun rise, noon, sunset, night) and
– the 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter).

Bio: Ottawa media artist Graham Thompson discovered midlife that he was a Cree Metis with Red River family connections to British explorer Samuel Hearn and Metis rebel leader Louis Riel. This genealogical research lead to the study of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. His work in Algonquin talking circles and sweat lodges triggered, with a generous grant from ED Video, the creation of the North-South-East-West Project, an interactive Web-based Medicine Wheel. Thompson has won awards for his media work from the European Film Festival MEFEST, the International Digital Art Awards of Melbourne Australia, Cool Site of the Day of New York and the Common Wealth Vision Awards of England.

National Gallery of Canada Are You In? Video

National Gallery of Canada video features Amanda Putz, Jennifer Hollett, Crush Luther, The Love Machine, Ukrainia,  Antizario, Sufi Girl, DJ D-Mass, Celpto and The Lost Cypsies.

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As part of the their annual festivities celebrating youth and diversity, Graham Thompson worked with the National Gallery of Canada to document their “Are You In?” event –hosted by Amanda Putz (of CBC Radio’s Fuse) and Jennifer Hollett (formerly of MuchMusic).

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The 2008 show featured live music and performances by Crush Luther, The Love Machine, Ukrainia, Antizario, Sufi Girl, DJ D-Mass, Celpto, The Lost Cypsies, The Canadian Capoeira group, Capital Poetry Collective Collective and the Canadian Floormasters – known for the community building work with Inuit youth in the Arctic. The event was a call for the youth to take a stand on diversity and inclusion, presented by the National Gallery of Canada’s Teen Council on  Thursday March 13, 2008 from 12 to 8 pm It featured live music, an Alternative fashion show, Art workshop with with Graham Robinson, Michèle Provost and Graham Thompson, and a Teen Art Exhibit.

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More on the Participants

Jennifer Hollett (born September 16, 1975) is a Canadian television personality and political activist. She was the 2015 New Democratic Party’s candidate in the new riding of University Rosedale. Hollett has a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Journalism and Communications from Concordia University in Montreal, and a Masters in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her public speaking appearances include the Hart House Hancock Lecture  and TEDx. Jennifer Hollett is the Atkinson Associate on Civic Technology  and a Broadbent Leadership Fellow.  Hollett was a contributor to CBC News Network’s prime time show Connect with Mark Kelley and was formerly a MuchMusic VJ and videographer, she hosted MuchOnDemand, Much In Your Space, Combat Zone, Power Shift, Count Down, Live@Much and some specials until leaving the network in 2005. Hollett started out as a radio jockey at Concordia University. In 2013, she sought to be the New Democratic Party’s candidate in Toronto Centre for that riding’s pending federal by-election but was defeated for the nomination by Linda McQuaig on September 15, 2013. Her working career started with Sony Music Canada in the New Media Division working on websites for artists such as Our Lady Peace, Prozzak and Céline Dion. She later moved up to CTV, then to MuchMusic. She hosted “The Chatroom” on TalkTV on the recommendation of a CTV producer she met at Sony. At the end of that year, she was hired by MuchMusic.

Crush Luther is a Canadian pop-rock band based in Toronto, best known for their 2007 single “City Girl” and 2010 single “A Light”. The band formed in London, Ontario in 2002, with members from both Uxbridge, Ontario and Arnprior, Ontario. The original four members (Luther Mallory, Giggi Bongard, Brent Mills and Bodan Mulholland) worked together to build a strong catalogue of songs and sets before setting out to play shows in the Southern Ontario region. Towards the end of the same year, guitar player Matt Leitch (aka. Matt Fury) joined the band after learning the entire set the day before his first appearance with the band. Since 2004, the band has released a 12-song demo in several formats and pressings. In late 2006, Crush Luther signed with Toronto-based High 4 Records (owned and operated by Darrin Pfeiffer of Goldfinger), the same label to which the band Cauterize was signed. Their self-titled album was released February 13, 2007. It was recorded at Iguana Studios, Pocket Studios, and Crush Luther Studios; it was produced by vocalist Luther Mallory, and engineered by Brent Mills. The first single from the album was “City Girl”, which included a music video that was popular on both MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic. It also reached number one on the MuchMoreMusic Top 10 countdown. A second single, “The Cools”, was released to radio and the music video was in heavy rotation on MuchMusic. Crush Luther appeared on several stints of the Warped Tour (2005, 2006, and 2007) in both Canada and the United States.

After a brief hiatus in late 2007 the band reformed with a new line up: Luther Mallory singing in addition to handling rhythm guitar duties, Matt Leitch on lead guitar, Dustin Wood, former bass player of Grand:PM handling bass guitar, and PJ Herrick, former drummer of Forty Cent Fix on drums. Ryan Snyder later replaced Dustin Wood on bass, Shael Fox, AKA former rhythm guitarist Dee Tard of The 3tards, later replaced Ryan Snyder. Crush Luther’s second album, Some People Have No Good To Give, was released in 2009. The first single from the album was “A Light”. The video reached #2 on the MuchMore Top 10 Countdown. Videos for the second single “28” and third single “I Was Electric” also charted on the countdown and received favourable rotation on Much Music.

The Love Machine – In a fast-paced world filled with chaos and uncertainty, stands The Love Machine – a band consisting of four hopefuls. Dreamers, some may call them, or optimists, as others may say. But in all reality, The Love Machine are a group of believers; genuine believers in love and a collective positivity. Nothing about The Love Machine is manufactured. The name simply stands to represent their approach to writing music – as a team of talented and hard-working artists who collaborate with the swift efficiency of a well-oiled machine. This machine’s main function, however, happens to be pumping out indie pop rock tunes that capture the heart and soul of listeners. With a musical catalogue bursting with pop sensibility laced with twists and hooks at every turn and bridge, how could you not fall head over heels with their hopeful ideals? The Love Machine – consisting of Allan Gauthier, Sean Prescott, Jordan David and Mike Laing – blossomed as a band back in the year of 2004, stemming from the amalgamation of two past bands that had befriended one another. Their chemistry as a group came naturally, as did their collective agreement upon collaborative creation, with each member contributing to the songwriting process. Similarly, each takes his turn on the microphone, thus proving that four songwriters plus four vocalists adds up to the collective sound that is The Love Machine. The Ottawa natives have shared their music throughout three releases, their most recent being Sweater Weather. The album boasts the band’s ever evolving sound, and sweet production at the hands of Jonathon Chandler (Amos The Transparent). Sweater Weather represents not the departure or straying from the path of The Love Machine’s original sound, but rather a paving of new avenues to where they want to be. It received recognition from the Ottawa Xpress newspaper where they found themselves on the cover and earned the Best Record of The Year praise by Canadian music website I HeartMusic.net! It should come as no surprise that these boys know how to kick it live with engaging and dynamic sets filled with crowd interaction and energetic antics. They have taken their live performance across the East Coast on three separate, extensive tours, along with tearing up stages throughout Ontario, playing over 200 shows in their career. The Love Machine has performed with the likes of Moneen, Metric, Passion Pit, and at festivals including Canadian Music Week, NXNE, Pop Montreal, Halifax Pop and Ottawa Bluesfest. MembersBand: Paul Granger, Damian Sawka, Dave Martindale, Tom Werbowetski.

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UKRAINIA! was formed in 2002, by four guys who believed the Ukrainian music scene needed a little jump start. They play vintage Ukrainian music, hardened by the members’ rock roots.Biography Armed with an arsenal of songs and a high-energy stage show full of audience participation, Ukrainia is without a doubt one of the most exciting live acts around The band’s sound is transforming the foundation of Ukrainian music as we know it, and bringing it to an explosive new level. It’s loud, passionate, in your face, and not for the weak. No banduras here – just three guitars, drums, and a whole lotta vodka fuel this musical juggernaut. The younger generation has embraced Ukrainia for the way they have transformed traditional Ukrainian music into a rock’n’roll floor-shaking party for the senses. Over the past eight years ,they have played some of the biggest festivals in North America, leaving a trail of awed and inspired new followers in their wake.

Amanda C. Putz (born March 1975) is a Canadian radio personality. Formerly the host of Fuse and Bandwidth on CBC Radio One, she moved to Hong Kong in 2006, and guest-hosted various programs on Radio Television Hong Kong’s English network, including announcing news for the station. In April 2007 Putz launched a new program, also called Bandwidth, on RTHK. As of August 2007, Putz was back in Canada, hosting on CBC Radio 3 over the summer, including two episodes of The R3-30. She also filled-in on CBC Radio One’s “Sounds Like Canada.” She returned to hosting duties on CBC Radio’s Fuse until that show was no longer produced in the fall of 2008. She got a regular slot on Radio 3 as of September 2008. However, as of January 1, 2009, she was assigned to producing live recorded shows for CBC Radio 2 on a full-time basis; she had been producing such shows part-time while hosting on Radio 3. In fall 2009 she resumed hosting duties on Bandwidth and later Alan Neal became host of All in a Day. As of winter 2012 she is on a maternity leave, and the show is currently hosted by Meg Wilcox.

Stephen Leafloor BluePrintForLife founder, Stephen Leafloor has a Masters in Social Work (MSW degree) and over 25 years experience as a social worker in the areas of probation, wilderness programs, and street work with youth at risk, residential group homes, child protection and community outreach.Stephen has also been an active participant in the Hiphop culture as a dancer since 1982 and completed his masters thesis on this culture and its importance for educators and social workers in 1986.He was recently appointed as an “Ashoka Fellow’ for Canada (One of the world’s most prestigious organizations for international outreach) and also appointed as a “Making More Health Fellow” to an international working group on health.For 2012 he was selected as one of Canada’s Top “45 over 45” for Zoomers magazine. Stephen is also a published author in publications regarding healing and Hiphop.Stephen has performed for James Brown, Rapper IceT, Grandmaster Flash, BlackEyed Peas and George Clinton. His dancing has been featured on Much Music, in assorted music videos and in a number of documentaries. He has also performed privately for the Kirov Ballet of Russia and opened for La La La Human Steps at Canadas National Arts Center.

Guerilla Mag Ottawa, Metis Media Fest 2008

Metis Media Fest 2008 reviewed in Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine piece “Old Cultures, New Tech”.

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Tony Martins features the 2008 Metis Media Fest in the September Issue #17 of Ottawa’s Guerilla Magazine in a piece entitled “Old Cultures, New Tech”.

The article ran as follows: Besides taking him around the world, Graham Thompson’s inter-cultural video and film projects have directly exposed him to the issues that threaten indigenous peoples in many countries.

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On Valentine’s Day 2005, at the start of a planned inter-cultural exchange sponsored by the Canadian Embassy in Manila, one of several bombs was detonated two blocks from Thompson’s hotel room. The bombings were what rebel group “Abu Sayyaf” called retribution for government assaults in the southern Philippines, a flash point of resistance since Spanish colonial efforts in the 1500s. In the bombings, 11 people were killed and 160 injured.

 

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A member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia (of Cree and Scottish heritage), Thompson sought to share and explore his Aboriginal experiences closer to home when he directed the first Métis Media Fest in August of 2007 at Club SAW. The success of that effort led to an expanded 2008 festival that took place September 6 and 7. Guerilla asked Thompson to write about the development and success of his Métis Media Fest—an intriguing mix of age-old cultures and leading-edge technology.

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Métis Media Fest 2007 featured 50 videos, 25 digital images and 10 audio tracks from Aboriginal artists in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Peru, and the Philippines. The event was an immersive installation of computers and video displays, where excerpts of the works were shown on the main screens and unedited versions archived on the computers within the installation. Audiences gathered at tables in the darkened space, lit only buy the glow of 13 video displays, to view a collage of works that ranged from traditional to experimental.

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This year’s festival followed a similar format, but the Aboriginal artists were all from the local region. The thrust this year was to explore social media and build a strong sense of local artists that belong to our growing Aboriginal urban population. The 50 videos depicted local fiddle players, jiggers, sculptors, painters, elders, lodge keepers, and poets.

Many of the videos were developed as collaborative projects, where I would interview local artists, elders, and writers in their studios, homes, or places of work. Often the artists would perform or otherwise share their work as we filmed. We developed 50 short videos ranging from one to 10 minutes in length, appropriate for viewing in an installation or on web sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and MétisFestival.com—the final destinations for the content after the festival.

Métis Media Fest is largely a social networking experience: people gather around computer nodes to compare choices and experience the work. In keeping with an informal Métis gathering where people of many cultures and traditions come together, the festivals unfold in “Indian time”—in unscripted fashion, without strict adherence to a fixed schedule. The festivals begin and end with the ebb and flow of its participants.

Inspired by the 400-year-old Métis society involving the Cree, Scottish, Ojibway, French and Saulteaux (to name only a few of the participants in the historic fur trade that shaped early Canada), the festival celebrates a unique culture that is a hybrid of European and Aboriginal civilizations.

The festival adheres to the Métis sense of adventure and innovation whereby European technology was adapted to the Canadian wilderness, leading to new forms of transportation, hunting, clothing, music, dance, art, and spirituality. Examples of such adaptation include the York boat, the Red River cart, the Métis buffalo hunt, flower design leather clothing, Métis fiddle music, and Métis dance known as jigging.

In further keeping with Métis tradition, the 2008 festival incorporated the traditional use of the circle (in this case, a ring of video displays) found in Aboriginal ceremonies such as the sweat lodge and the talking circle. The mix of technology included digital DVD players, hypertext interfaces, microcomputers, and video projectors.

Juxtaposition of technology and Aboriginal traditional knowledge is not unusual in today’s indigenous digital culture. In the remote southwestern edge of the Filipino archipelago, for example, the work of Aboriginal video artist Kanakan-Balintagos documents the most sacred rituals of his Palawan tribe in an effort to secure their ancestral domain claim in the Philippines.

In a sense, the Métis Media Fest was designed to incorporate traditional knowledge to help satisfy a growing need for spiritual unity on our shared planet. The experience of art seated in ancient tradition becomes a doorway to the experience the “oneness” of the universe—what Carl Jung described as the couplings of the inner subjective and the outer objective reality evolved through the influence of the archetypes, patterns inherent in the human psyche and shared by all of mankind.

The festival could not have happened without the generous support of Club SAW, SAW Video, the Government of Canada’s Canada Heritage Department, the City of Ottawa, P4 Social Venture Entrepreneurs, and Dakima Marketing and Communications of Ottawa. Métis Media Fest 2008 depended heavily on volunteers for everything from video shoots to installation set-ups to internet marketing and has been blessed by supporters from Francophone, Aboriginal, Pakistani, East Indian, African, and Yemen communities in the local region.

Asifa Akbar, a lawyer from South Africa, captured the feeling: “I think it’s great and so Canadian that we have people from such diverse backgrounds working on helping to preserve and promote one of the cultures unique to Canada, and that in effect spells out what it means to be Canadian.”

Some of the Ottawa-based artists featured in Métis Media Fest 2008

  • Jaime Koebel, from Lac La Biche, Alberta, is a Métis dancer (jigger)      with the dance group “Jig on the Fly.” As an MA candidate at the School of       Canadian Studies at Carleton University, Jaime has a strong focus on      Aboriginal youth issues in the context of indigenous knowledge, arts, and      culture.
  • Raymond Girard, a Francophone composer and performer from      Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, has performed on the Easter Seal Telethon on CBC      and hosted numerous episodes of the line-dancing show “Dancer, Dancer” on       Rogers Television. From his roots-music CD entitled Êtes-vous prêt pour, the “Lumber Jack” song has      become the most-played Franco-Ontarian video on YouTube.
  • Paul Brunneau, an Ojibway sculptor, has sold pieces to collectors in      Denmark, Italy, Mexico, Bahamas, Germany, and the United States. His work       has been featured on CTV’s Regional Contact, at the Muskoka Fine Arts      Summer Show, and at the Stone Carver’s Show in Bancroft Ontario, where he      exhibited a 4,000-pound piece made entirely of marble.
  • Anita Tuharsky, a Métis poet from Regina, Saskatchewan, is      often compared to Lily Tomlin for her use of humour to express the      absurdities of life. For Tuharsky, “Problems are challenges are lessons      are opportunities are gifts.”
  • Willy Bruce, an artist of Anishinabe and Scottish descent, is a      native veteran, a pipe carrier and a carrier of the Aboriginal Veterans’      Eagle Staff. Willy is currently lodge keeper at the Circle of Nations       Learning Centre at Natural Resources Canada. His traditional works are      conceived as vehicles for Aboriginal teachings.

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal

Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal, Retrospective of net.art features North-South-East-West, 2008.

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The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal’s Electronic Magazine,  issue No 32 a Retrospective of net.art, features North-South-East-West Web Site in December 2008.

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The North-South-East-West web site was reviewed as follows:

COSMOGONY ALGONKINE CACHÉE/MONTRÉE?

About the well-known work of Graham Thomson, North-South-East-West, we will recall his operating mode first of all, like its organization.     With the opening of the URL an interface of reception informs us of the format of the work, carried out under Flash.

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If the hyperlector chooses not to have any action, it will discover a sequence of four distinct sequences:

  • a very fast succession of images lets to us guess a plan of country, or city. It is necessary to make use of several captures of screens, then to increase them, to realize that the plan in question is that of the Contracting State of Minnesota (or of the state), the USA. Area bordering, should it be pointed out, of the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario, ancestral grounds of Algonkins;
  • an anthropomorphic figure, that one will be able to associate a totemic representation, becomes animated on a bottom of horizontal screens. A cube drawn in three D also rolls on the space representation which this screen constitutes;
  • in tone bluish, dark, a heavenly object occupies the bottom of a scene which seems left an space-opera. A hinged jib (Canadian technology?) approaches a unit which could be a space base;
  • finally, of the parabolas, fixed on pylons, roofs, seem to receive waves coming from the sky.   Once the hyperlector will have shelled dissolve-connected these four sequences, it will have to click on one or the other of the bonds hypertexts to discover a new interface – which will give him access to the contents of work itself.

In a very simple way, and as many works born on the Web could show it to us, the interface of work is appeared as a space metaphor. In top north, bellow the south, on the left the west and is on the right.

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Under each of the four cardinal points, a list from five to eight names proposes to us, thanks to the hypertext link, to discover an animated sequence. Before returning on their contents, we stop a few moments on another element of the interface, which will be always present at the screen, méta-bars it navigation. The choices suggested by this méta-bar are as follows, rather similar to those which one can find on considerable sites: exit, home, contact, information.

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The subparagraph “information” will teach us that work is inspired by the symbolic system of the cardinal points traditional of the people algonkin. One will not be thus surprised to have discovered only the plan which ravelled at any speed in introduction was that of a state in the past (and also in a contemporary way) populated algonkins.

All work then, can be included/understood starting from this aspect of the introduction. The history of the American settlement being supposed known of all, one could only be sensitive to the fact that the people algonkin, like all the indigenous people of two Americas, have a report/ratio with the eminently problematic territory, conflict, even painful.

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This territory, that the Amerindian people had by force to divide with Europeans, it is represented here in extreme cases of the visible one. So much so that one is forced to fix the image by capture of screen, to discover that it was about a plan of Minnesota.

The territory, literally, is hidden, virtual. It is in addition the territory of the other, since the place names are for the majority resulting from the Anglo-Saxon space representation: Cambridge, Turkey Not, Normandale, etc… It is a case emblematic of the use of information technologies and communication – where the appearance and disappearance as well as the tape speed of the images make direction.

This territory hidden, evoked perhaps by this totemic dance of the introduction, then moved in the space, and finally reinvested on ground through the waves received by parabolas, the body of work then proposes to us to discover it.

It while clicking on different the items is contained under the headings North South – East – West that we will be able to open the sequences having for name:    winter, snow, elder, courage, ice, endurance (North), summer, spirit, quest, secrecies, bloom, vision, adolesence, youth (South), birth, dawn, spring, flower, sun (East), automn, adult, thunder, sunset, renewal, (West).

With the choice, one will stop on the sequence “Vision”, in the North heading, to hear the message whereby “Vision C not reveal”; or one will hear, in “Dawn” this thought animist “All that belongs to the earth belongs to me”. But there is not the essence of our reading: the quality of animations, of the spoken or sung sequences, all that is left with the appreciation of each visitor, according to his sensitivity. It will be noticed only that none the many rewards received by this work is usurped.

What must hold our attention, it is connect it simplicity of the device, behind which semiotics questions differently more complex hide.

The list of the items reproduced above informs us indeed that certain sequences are called in reference to the season (winter…) and in connection with such or such cardinal point; other sequences indicate natural phenomena (snow, ice, flower, sun, thunder); others milked in the human condition (elder, adolesence, youth, birth, adult); others still refer to human or animal qualities (courage, endurance…); and others finally with phenomena of calendarity (dawn, sunset, renewal).

What it is necessary to point of the finger, it is the extreme diversity of the items and the extremely different registers which they indicate: natural seasons (long calendarity), phenomena, age group, human and/or animal quality, short calendarity.

Consequently, the action to click on one or the other of these items, and the surprise to each time discover a different sequence by its setting in image, the absence or the presence of a said text, etc… puts the hyperlector in a situation of imbalance with the project openly announced by the work – which is, let us recall it, inspired of the symbolic system of the cardinal points of the nation algonkine. How indeed to build a knowledge of this cosmogony if no methodology is proposed by the author – and whereas we are in a new mode of expression?

Moreover, one will notice the readily enigmatic character of certain sequences – which seem to function according to a logic well more oneiric rational.

In short, none known in the past cognitive maps seems respected here: we find the linearity of the written text and its paratextuelle organization, neither the syntax of the cinematographic writing (fictional or documentary), nor the methodology of the museographic modes of exposure, etc…

It however remains that the work of Graham Thomson transmits a message well to us, and more still that a message the feeling to have shared a significant experiment.

The logic which seems to prevail is well more that of the dream – a dream directly connected to psyché of Amerindian people – a logic which one will be able to say transverse, for want of anything better for the moment.

It is perhaps the greatest quality of this work, which all at the same time enchants us in the most naive way, and reserves questions differently more difficult to us, having milked with semiotics, and the development of a specific critical language.

Xavier Malbreil

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal Overview

The Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal (CIAC) is a non-profit organisation administered by a board of directors and managed by personnel with an expertise in artistic production, communications and arts administration. The mandate of the CIAC is to disseminate contemporary art from Québec, Canada and abroad. Initially identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also showcases the creative practices of artists working in design, graphic art, art film and video, architecture and urbanism, and landscape architecture.

The CIAC’s aim is to make its activities accessible to the greatest possible number of visitors. It employs various strategies to achieve this, including exhibitions, conferences, discussions between artists and the public and educational activities for a variety of target groups. The CIAC has no permanent space for its activities. It temporarily occupies various locations suited to each event, whether a museum, an unused warehouse, a park or other public space, a gallery or exhibition venue, etc. First identified with the visual arts, the CIAC also disseminates the work of professionals in object design and graphic design, video and art film, architecture and town planning, architecture landscape.

From 1985 to 1996, the CWC was mainly noted for organizing the hundred days of Contemporary Art of Montreal.  In 1998, he set up the Montreal Biennale (BNL MTL), an international biennial included in the biennial network of major cities in the world. In addition to the organization of artistic events, the CIAC also carries out cultural work, aimed at an in-depth understanding of the stakes of contemporary art, which took the form of various programs of activities, in particular the annual competition Of Young Critics in Visual Arts (1997 to 2007).

Finally, the CIAC online edits the CIAC’s Electronic Magazine. This bilingual magazine (English and French) offers critical works and general information on active artists in the middle of the web art (or line art ) and the institutions that disseminate it.

National Gallery of Canada, Global Voices 2012

Global Voices 2012 at National Gallery of Canada, 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations.

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The Global Voices 2012 event at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa Canada featured 37 paintings, 23 videos and 18 artists of Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Cree and Mohawk Nations, including musicians Eman the Warrior & the Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dancers and paintings and videos by Sherry Tompalski and Graham Thompson respectively in December 2012.

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The Global Voices 2012 program featured:

  • Afghan Portraits and the Voices from Afghanistan video.
  • Native American Flute and World Beat composer David Finkle with Simon Handley (percussion, electronics) and  Andy W. Mason (percussion, guitar, vocals).
  • Iranian Portraits and a video of Iranian dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam
  • The Abezamutima Burundian Traditional Dance Group
  • Residential School Portraits and the Irene Lindsay  video, Thomas Louttit video and Dr. Morgan Baillargeon (actor, costume designer and concept creator) in the Campfire, Tea and Bannock video
  • Eman the Warrior (Emmanuel Oletho) the Singer and Song Writer from Ethiopia
  • Central American Portraits and the Victor Fuentes and Tito Medina videos
  • Dr Lee’s West African Rhythms
  • Central American Portraits and the Delores of Guatemala video
  • African Portraits and Videos featuring the Hawa Kaba video and Hamid Ayoub vide

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Who Organized the Project?

The Global Voices 2012 Event was created and organized by Sherry Tompalski (painter) and Graham Thompson (videographer). The concept was based on the realization that many refugee artists and activists arrive in Canada with highly developed artistic skills and compelling personal stories of survival. As a result, the refugee’s work is uniquely suited to a multimedia presentation where audiences have the opportunity to see, to hear and to understand their personal accounts of, for example, walking across Chad, without food or money to escape the horrors of Darfur (Hamid Video).

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A Transcript of the Global Voices 2012 Event at the National Gallery of Canada

My name is Graham Thompson. I am a videographer. I am one of many artists you will see this evening. for 10 years we have created events involving art, dance, media and music, the projects have included over 100 separate artists. artists from Australia, Peru, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, the Philippines, Taiwan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Canada and the United States. This work has been shown in Taipei, Manila, Belgrade, Chicago, Melbourne, London, Vancouver and Toronto. we wanted to acknowledge the extreme challenges many people face in our complicated world and we wanted to have a focus on survival and renewal. IN ORDER TO CREATE THIS WORK we have been helped by a great many Embassies, NGOs, Universities, Museums, Government Departments and Arts Funding Agencies.

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Special thanks goes to: The Catholic Immigration Centre, The Canadian Red Cross, USC Canada, Ottawa Carleton Immigrant Services Organization, Odawa Friendship Centre, The Minwashin Lodge, Metis Nation of Ontario, The World University Service Canada, the University of Oxford in England, Carleton university, the University of Ottawa, York University, The United Nations, Library and Archives Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Trade office in Taipei, Canadian Embassy in Manila, The Canadian Embassy in Belgrade Serbia, Canadian Heritage, the Parliament of Canada, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro, the Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture, Canadian Centre for International Justice, The City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, SAW Video, the SAW Gallery and Donna Cona Inc

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A Transcipt of the Event

TONIGHT WE OFFER DANCE, ART, MEDIA AND MUSIC. Representing Afghanistan, Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iran, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Cree & Mohawk Nations of Canada.

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WE  SHALL BEGIN  IN AFGHANISTAN. with the portraits, as shown on the screen,  of a family of refugees from KABUL. the paintings were created in Sherry Tompalski’s studio there were cameras covering the evolution of the artwork, and any comments the models wished to make we didn’t ask any questions, we simply let the people speak, if they wanted to for example, we will play 5 short videos from the sittings some people from the project, have requested that we use ONLY there first names. BAHARA from KABUL describes: a party which took place in her home which was invaded by patrolling soldiers as there  was a BAN on MUSIC. HER  BROTHER Remembers the escape from his village during an attack  in the Afghan war. HER other BROTHER Recounts his experience at the National football stadium where the Taliban used to publicly execute women accused of adultery. FATIMA who insisted that she not be photographed is shown through the creation of her portrait. Her story of 30 years of War in Afghanistan  is translated by Bahara.

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WE Move to Iran, on the screen you can see portraits of the Iranian Scientist and Folk Dancer Dr. Maria Modhaddam our work with MARIA includes portraits, videos and dance performances. The work was first shown in the PARLIAMENT OF CANADA in 2009, The event included speeches by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and Abraham ABRAHAM the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees  in Canada. later we worked together at the University of Ottawa, As part of the 2nd Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. in the following video, which features dance footage from her own archive, Maria talks about the life of a REFUGEE.

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IN PART 4, we feature the ABEZAMUTIMA  Burundian Traditional Dance Group the dance troop is made of highly experienced Burundian folk and traditional dancers. Through its artistic endeavors, the group hopes to share its heritage with communities and promote cultural diversity in the National Capital Region. ABEZA = beautiful inside, MUTIMA = heart or soul. Has anyone been to BURUNDI? Has anyone visited AFRICA? Burundi is located on the equator in eastern Africa.

IN PART 5, We move to CREE NATIONS  in SASKATCHEWAN and ONTARIO on the screen we see portraits of 5 participants in a project involving people who attended residential schools. I am grateful for the help of the Odawa Friendship centre and the Minwashin Lodge in helping with this section of the project. The Indian residential schools of Canada were a network of “residential” or boarding schools for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit funded by the Canadian government’s Department of Indian Affairs, and adminstered by Christian churches, according to wikipedia – The system had origins in pre-Confederation times. The last residential school was not closed until 1996. We have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits where IRENE LINDSAY and THOMAS LOUTTIT describe their experiences BOTH activists attended residential school  for 8 years after Irene and Thomas, we have a short instructional video showing a metis fur trader creating a campfire and tea and bannock on a winter’s day.

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IN PART 6  We MOVE to ETHIOPIA. Specifically, to a singer song writer called EMAN his music promotes peace, love and inspiration. Emmanuel Oletho was a refugee for three years in Kenya Yet, he was granted a scholarship to study at Carleton University through the World University Service of Canada. He is graduating in 2013 with Bachelor of political science. EMAN WILL SING – SHINE A LIGHT

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IN PART 7, We move to CENTRAL AMERICA, these portraits are refugee artists from Guatemala and El Salvador, we have selected 2 video clips for tonight that will play after the portraits. VICTOR, whose music you hear in the second video was almost killed in El Salvador in a torture chamber. TITO, whose music you hear in a video,  was just a kid when his songs got him into trouble in his home country Guatemala. some of the portraits were created with mixed media using a collage of sheet music from an Ottawa orchestra, symbolizing the person reassembling themselves in a new setting, in Ottawa. Some of the portraits have exported video frames from their videos clips, which symbolize the person having to reinvent themselves in their new country.

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In PART 8, we return to AFRICA, to listen to DR LEE’S WEST AFRICAN RHYTHMS Dr Lee  studied in Guinea, West Africa with renowned drum master Aboubacar Camara. Dr Lee has collaborated with the Cirque du Soleil and The Soul Jazz Orchestra. 2 YEARS AGO, Dr Lee performed with us at the National Library and Archives of Canada. the installation featured 65 works of art, 25 artists, 23 videos, 19 speakers, 13 NGOs & 2 plays.

PART 9, we return to CENTRAL Amerca, these portraits are created with graphite on paper and  ink and graphite on paper. AND we have selected 2 video clips, that will play after the portraits of the participants. The following video is NOT SUITABLE for YOUNG AUDIENCES, as there are graphic descriptions of violence Ms D, whose name is withheld by request, provides a detailed account of the destruction of her family during a labour dispute. Her story includes graphic details of her kidnap and imprisonment.

IN PART 10,  We again feature singer song writer EMAN, He is a voice for the voiceless. EMAN is an advocate for the poor, the victims of genocide, HIV orphans, and humanitarian related issues. EMAN WILL SING –  I AM A WARRIOR

IN PART 11  We look at portraits and videos of artists  from Guinea and Sudan we have selected 2 video clips that will play after the portraits of the participants that are shown on the screen. HAMID describes his escape from Sudan through the deserts of CHAD he Escaped, on foot, and without food, water or money. He trekked across the desert day and night, through small villages avoiding the main highways, and the possibility of detection. He survived a violent car jacking episode on his way to Niger. HAWA, who is A Refugee Artist from Guinea, West Africa, also tells her story…. she was sent to jail, because she filled out an application for a passport. In order to leave the jail, she was forced to sign a confession, that said she was a counter-revolutionary. HAWA exhibited paintings at the 2010 library and archives event.

IN PART 12 WE FEATURE COMPOSER DAVID FINKLE AGAIN, along with Simon Handley on percussion and electronics, and  Andy W. Mason on percussion, guitar, and vocals we have worked together since 2008 when David performed with NORTHERN VOICES in a large installation of 20 video screens and 8 computers. The installation featured 100 short videos of 30 aboriginal artists.

IN PART 13 we return to the ABEZAMUTIMA  Dance Group, the ABEZAMUTIMA Burundian Traditional Dance Group have created a 2nd dance for us this evening. Then  ALL MUSICIANS ON STAGE, DANCERS join musicians on stage, ALL speakers and behind the scenes people on stage playing available percussion instruments play a final song and dance.

I want to thank everyone for all their help and support in the creation of this GLOBAL VOICES 2012 event, including Sherry Tompalski, Petra Hawkes, Richard and Darren the Technicians, the national Gallery of Canada, The Abezamutima Dancers, David Finkle, Simon Handley, Andy W. Mason, Dr Lee, EMAN, the camera work of CE SOIR FILMS. This marks the end of our 10th international event in 10 years, involving over 100 artists from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, tonight we have selected an overview of a project that contains over 50 portraits, and 5 hours of video. Thank you for coming tonight.

North-South-East-West Catalogue Launch

North-South-East-West Catalogue presented with talk at Research in Art 2014

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The North-South-East-West Catalogue was presented with a talk at the Research in Art Salon 53 in Ottawa Canada on October 8, 2014

With the launch of the North-South-East-West project in 2003, medicine-wheel.co, Thompson received invitations to exhibit his work in North America, Asia and Europe. The new North-South-East-West Catalogue records the history of project and is available from Blurb Books of San Francisco.  The catalogue was launched with a 45 minute talk at Research in Art in 2014 which included a travelogue of shows in Canada, USA, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Russia and France. The talk also included a guided tour of the North-South-East-West interactive video, with an emphasis on the relevance of medicine wheel teachings to contemporary life styles by inter-relating the following 5 concepts:
– the 4 cardinal directions (East, South, West, North),
– the 4 stages of life (birth, youth, adulthood, old age),
– the 4 challenges of life (survival, vision, path, wisdom),
– the 4 positions of the sun (sun rise, noon, sunset, night) and
– the 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter).

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Graham Thompson’s Biography

Ottawa media artist Graham Thompson discovered midlife that he was a Cree Metis with Red River family connections to British explorer Samuel Hearn and Metis rebel leader Louis Riel. This genealogical research lead to the study of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge. His work in Algonquin talking circles and sweat lodges triggered, with a generous grant from ED Video, the creation of the North-South-East-West Project, an interactive Web-based Medicine Wheel. Thompson has won awards for his media work from the European Film Festival MEFEST, the International Digital Art Awards of Melbourne Australia, Cool Site of the Day of New York and the Common Wealth Vision Awards of England.

13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro

Metis Media Installation videos presented at 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro 2008.

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Graham Thompson presented videos from the Metis Media Installation at the 13th International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008.

Videos from the Métis Media Installation were presented with an artist’s talk at the International TV Festival Bar Montenegro in October 2008. The presentation included videos “The Anishinabe Woman,” “The Four Directions Webcast,” “John Maracle,” “Willy Bruce,” “Raymond Girard” and “Paul Bruneau.”

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The International TV Festival Bar Montenegro is the largest television festival in South Eastern Europe was developed by visionary Ljiljana Ðindinovic, who created the annual event during the Balkans War in 1994 to help preserve ties between the nations of the former Yugoslavia.

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Metis Day

Canadian Museum of Civilization features videos Pauline’s Neighbourhood, The Jingle Dress Dance and Water is Associated with the North 2009.

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Metis Day was held in the Grand Hall

Metis Day at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, now known as the Canadian Museum of History, featured the following videos “Pauline’s Neighbourhood,” “The Jingle Dress Dance” and “Water is Associated with the North” by Graham Thompson on February 08, 2009.

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The Grand Hall is the architectural focal point of the Museum and houses the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Canadian Museum of History Mandate:

“To enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.” (Canadian Museum of History Act)

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The Canadian Museum of History welcomes over 1.2 million visitors each year to its celebrated complex in the heart of the National Capital Region, making it the country’s most-visited museum. With roots stretching back to 1856, it is one of Canada’s oldest public institutions and a respected centre of museological excellence, sharing its expertise in history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies both within Canada and abroad.

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In addition to its ongoing exhibitions, including the spectacular Grand Hall and First Peoples Hall, each year the Museum presents a number of outstanding exhibitions focusing on Canadian and world history and civilizations. These exhibitions include those developed by the Museum as well as many produced by other Canadian or international institutions. The Museum is also home to the Canadian Children’s Museum, a 500-seat theatre and the CINÉ+, a 295-seat movie theatre equipped with a giant 3D screen and a giant dome. Online, the Canadian Museum of History presents a number of excellent virtual exhibitions, including the Virtual Museum of Canada and the Virtual Museum of New France.

Research activities are concentrated in the fields of history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies. The National Collection consists of more than four million artifacts, specimens, works of art, written documents, and sound and visual recordings. More than 218,000 artifacts in the collection are accessible in an online database.

Global Voices 2012 Catalogue Launch

Global Voices 2012 Catalogue launched at Research In Art, 2013. 

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The Global Voices 2012 Catalogue was launched at the Research In Art Artist Project Room  May 11, 2013. During the event, Sherry Tompalski spoke about her paintings from the Global Voices Project during the period 2008 – 2012.

Artists Graham Thompson (media) and Sherry Tompalski (painting), create videos and portraits that draw attention to human rights issues and organize multimedia events that celebrate diverse communities in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Their last event was held in the auditorium of the National Gallery of Canada in December 2012. See the Global Voices Board at Pinterest and at the Global Voices Page on Facebook.

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A catalogue was produced for this occasion with an essay by Petra Halkes, “Shaping Identities in a Turbulent World.” Although Tompalski’s paintings were featured in Thompson’s videos, this will be the first time the painted, collaged and drawn portraits will be shown, on the walls of the RIA Artist Project Room.

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Sherry Tompalski writes: Talking Portraits is a series of videos and portraits of people whose lives have been derailed by and engulfed in trauma. These deeply personal narratives were recorded while their portraits were being painted. Narratives bravely spoken aloud that beg to be mirrored back, so that what was once in pieces, often hidden and dreamily disorganized can become known, experienced and integrated…so that the unburdening can begin. The reassembling of the fragmented self experience becomes the foundation of the portrait and the culture they reassemble in symbolized as pieces of sheet music, helping to hold together, patch and harmonize the sharp edges as they knit together.

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I wanted to bring to life with humanity the different adaptations to trauma and deprivation. I hope the participants feel the work is a honest reflection of their experience and furthers their own healing. Moreover I hope it is a catalyst for further inquiry and dialogue about trauma and recovery. I have had two career paths. I started in Fine Arts in Saskatoon in the 70’s only to segway into medicine and psychiatry in Vancouver in the 80’s, and then continue with both of them in Ottawa over the past 18 years. Each has informed, enriched and given voice and meaning to the other. In both I strive to be helpful, emphasize beauty and facilitate the mystery of healing. Sherry Tompalski.

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Shaping Identities in a Turbulent World – An Essay by Petra Halkes

In one way, Graham Thompson and Sherry Tompalski’s ongoing collaborative project Global Voices holds a mirror to personal lives lived in a tumultuous globalized world of interconnection and dispersion. The project includes painting, drawing, collage, video and organized events with invited speakers, dancers and musicians: it presents a fusion of sounds, images and voices. Bright patches of paint, repeated photo-images, words and musical scores vie for attention in Tompalski’s portrait paintings, while Thompson’s videos cover a myriad of film formats, from quiet, straight monologues with abrupt beginnings and endings, to kaleidoscopic montages, jump cuts and tracking shots against a range of background music; Global Voices reflect the world we live in.

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In another, more pertinent way, Global Voices goes beyond representation, and demonstrates how people build personal identities within a frantic world. Thompson’s videos were recorded in Tompalski’s studio during the portrait sittings. Their process of listening to and looking at the sitters and consequently recognizing and validating the storytellers’ experiences through representation in video and painting, illustrates in a concrete and artful way how identities are constructed in everyday life. As the renowned cultural theorist, Stuart Hall wrote:  “Perhaps instead of thinking of identity as an already accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a ‘production,’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation.” [i]

Global Voices includes videos and paintings of people from a wide range of backgrounds, but the majority of participants have had to overcome traumatic experiences brought on by forced migration from strife-torn countries, or, in the case of First Nations people, internal displacement.  The importance of telling stories has long been recognized as a personal way of healing, and as a way to re-build a communal identity, augment official history with deeply personal stories, and prompt socio-political action.[ii] Thompson and Tompalski’s focus is not on political systems and histories of who did what to whom; what comes through in their unstructured recordings and in the paintings is the effect that ideologies and state institutions have on the personal lives of individuals. This is felt most intensely in politically troubled areas of the world, but also in post-colonial countries such as Canada.

Global Voices provides a site for ordinary people to speak about the personal horrors inflicted on them by impersonal powers. Hawa Kaba, an artist from the Republic of Guinea, landed in jail through an activity as innocuous as applying for a passport; it changed her life forever. Fatima Parween from Afghanistan tells us, through translation, that she has “really bad memories from the time of the Russians and the Taliban,” and she flatly lists the names of the young men in her family who were killed.  In Canada, a cold political decision to assimilate aboriginal people, made in nineteenth-century colonial times, continues to reverberate in the personal lives of many to the very present. For Maggie Jefferies of James Bay, the governmental policy caused the loss of a brother. For Irene Lindsay from One Arrow, Batoche, Saskatchewan, it led to a troubling estrangement from her father.

As a former psychiatrist who has worked with refugees and soldiers, artists, couples and families, Tompalski is deeply aware of the power of such stories. Silence condemns victims to an unbearable, inhuman loneliness that precludes healing. Speaking out can facilitate a process of re-building a life of normalcy, transforming the horror of the past into the creation of a new strong identity. “Basically,” she writes, “I’m trying to understand the processing of loss and the tendrils of hope that allow us to survive.” [iii]Building on her professional experience of immersing herself in the lives of others, Tompalski became a prolific portrait painter. Her painting style of brightly coloured patches shows identity formation as a dialectical process of breaking-up and coming-together of personal and communal experiences. Although the faces are tightly cropped to foreground the individual subject, what is left of the background is filled in, in some paintings with words picked up from the video and in others with multiple photographs of the sitter. The portraits themselves are often multiples: the young Bahara Parween is painted eight times, Tito Medina, a musician from Guatemala, appears several times. Identity is not a singular truth; the paintings suggest that an ongoing multiplicity of events and choices shape and reshape our identity.

The past, and the places where the sitters came from, are signified in the culture-specific symbols and patterns that make up snippets of their clothing: a collar here, a bit of a shirt there. The paintings (and videos) do not deny that cultural heritage forms a vital part of people’s identity, but the exotic lure that such heritage could have provided for the viewers is denied. In some portraits, the artist adds scraps of paper that came from her own place, from her own collection of sheet music and paper cuttings: a gift to be taken into the mix of cultural influences that become part and parcel of building an identity. To the degree that we all live with such a mix, we are brought face to face here with people like us, people in our neighbourhood, and we get to know them just a bit better.

Identities are formed in a process of loss and renewal, but the personal control we have over this process depends to a great extent on the happenstance of the place and time of our birth. For over one hundred years, aboriginal children of Canada were taken away from their parents to attend boarding schools that were often overcrowded, underfunded and unhealthy. The children were not allowed to speak their native languages and sometimes did not see their family for up to a year. “For Canada,” Justice Murray Sinclair, the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada writes, “this is a shameful story.”[iv] Much of this shameful story is still coming to light, thanks to the work of people such as Irene Lindsay, who is featured in Global Voices. A grandmother of nine, she runs a Residential School Outreach Program in the seniors building she lives in. Among the stories she tells is one of her own eight years in residential school. She talks of becoming so estranged from her father that she couldn’t grieve for him when he died. Only years later, when a friend’s father was dying and she witnessed the warmth and care of the family that surrounded him, was she able to shed tears. It is not just the physical and sexual abuse, and the high death rate that turned the residential schools into such a disastrous failure. It is, as Lindsay says, “the other things, in between,” such as languages and traditions that can only slowly be relearned, and bonds between parents and children that can never be recuperated.

Lindsay is one of the heroes in the story of the Residential Schools in Canada, heroes who “continue to do the heavy labour of sharing their stories, and, by so doing, educating their children, their communities, and their country.”[v] At the events organized by Thompson and Tompalski, Lindsay shares a virtual stage with heroes like her, who have arrived in this country from elsewhere fleeing from other disasters. The people in Global Voices talk not only about what has happened to them in the past, but how they shaped their personal history of responses and choices and create an identity that continues to evolve. They show that self-identity is constituted, as Hall writes, “not outside, but within representation.”[vi]

Global Voices shows a world that continues to spin around us, influencing our thoughts and our feelings, never stopping to let us “find ourselves,” never providing a static identity. Through their videos and paintings Thompson and Tompalski have acknowledged and validated the life stories of others, and have provided a site for viewers to do the same. They have shown us a process of representation and recognition through which the past can be transformed and tentative new identities can emerge.

Petra Halkes, November 2012

[i] Stuart Hall: “Cultural Identity and Diaspora.” In Jonathan Rutherford, ed.: Identity: Community, Culture, Difference.  (London: Lawrence & Wishart 1990) pp 223 – 37 (p.222)

[ii] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum maintains a database of oral history testimonies: http://www.ushmm.org/research/collections/oralhistory/search/

Oral histories have played an important part in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa 1995 – 2006, and in the TRC commissions that followed in many countries, including Canada.

[iii]  Sherry Tompalski, exhibition proposal 2011, unpublished.

[iv] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: They came for the children: Canada, Aboriginal peoples, and residential schools. (Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2012) p. 1  Electronic resource: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/cvrc-trcc/IR4-4-2012-eng.pdf

[v] Ibid p.86

[vi] Stuart Hall, ibid p. 236

SAW Video Ottawa Ontario, Metis Media Fest 2008

Metis Media Fest 2008, 110 short videos, 30 Aboriginal Artists,  20 video displays and 8 computers at SAW Video Media Arts Ottawa.

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Pauline Brook on stage at Metis Media Fest 2008

The Metis Media Fest 2008 was exhibited at the SAW Video Media Arts Centre in Ottawa Canada on Sept 6&7, 2008. The project was a collaboration with 30 Aboriginal Artists from Ottawa. The multimedia event included 110 short videos, 20 video displays and 8 computers.

Excerpts of the video works were shown on the main screens with the unedited versions available on the computers within the installation. Videos included “Proud To Be Metis” commissioned for the project and sung in Michif by Raymon Girard, “Kevin Scofield”, “Paul Bruneau”, “Martin Dunn”, “Raymond Girard”, “Nathalie Coutou”, “Louise Vien”, “Willy Bruce”, “Jamie Koebel”, “John Maracle”, “Archie Martin”, and “Melody McKiver”.

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A view of Metis Media Fest 2008 from a seated postion

What is the Métis Media Festival?

A media festival that seeks to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a Metis?”  The event was of interest to Aboriginal audiences and those seeking a technological experience – to participate in an immersive electronic installation. In 2008, the installation featured  local fiddle players, jiggers, sculptors, painters, elders, lodge keepers, and poets such as Raymond Girard, Kevin Scofield, Paul Bruneau, Martin Dunn, Nathalie Coutou, Jamie Koebel, Louise Vien, Willy Bruce, John Maracle, Archie Martin, and Melody McKiver.

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Dancer Pauline Brook was featured in Metis Media Fest 2008

Inspired by a 300-year-old Métis settlement that became Manitoba, which involved the Cree, Scottish, Ojibway, French and Saulteaux, the installation celebrated a unique culture that was a hybrid of European and Aboriginal civilizations.  European technology was adapted to the Canadian wilderness, leading to new forms of transportation, hunting, clothing, music, dance, art, and spirituality. Examples of such adaptation include the York boat, the Red River cart, the Métis buffalo hunt, flower design leather clothing, Métis fiddle music, and Métis dance known as jigging.

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Metis Artist Ross Rheaume as featured in Metis Media Fest 2008

In further keeping with Métis tradition, the 2008 installation incorporated the traditional use of the circle (in this case, a ring of video displays) found in Aboriginal ceremonies such as the sweat lodge and the talking circle. The mix of technology included DVD players, hypertext interfaces, microcomputers, and video projectors. The 2008 installation, which took place September 6 and 7 at the SAW Media Arts Centre of Ottawa, depended on volunteers from Francophone, Aboriginal, Pakistani, African and Yemeni communities. Asifa Akbar, a lawyer from South Africa, captured the feeling, “I think it’s great and so Canadian that we have people from such diverse backgrounds working on helping to preserve and promote one of the cultures unique to Canada, and that in effect spells out what it means to be Canadian.”

In October 2008, videos from the Métis Media Installation were presented with an artist’s talk at the International TV Festival Bar Montenegro. The presentation included videos The Algonquin Marriage, North-South-East-West, John Maracle, Willy Bruce, Raymond Girard and Paul Bruneau.