This new body of work investigates the Wild West archive with specific attention paid to Sitting Bull. As a Lakota Sioux myself, and as a descendant of Sitting Bull’s band that came to Canada, I continue to draw upon this history for creative inspiration, as well as to locate this unique and complex history within Canada and the United States.
The title, Indian Candy is a play on words. The word grouping was often used to describe dried wild salmon with a sweet flavor, which was sold by restaurants and grocers. I am rearticulating the words, perhaps owning them, to name the works both as “Indian” and as “candy.” I am using candy also in the context as confectionary to further reconsider commodity culture, desire, need, and contemporary art and how indigenous iconography has circulated within historical art production and discourses.
I have worked with 8 mm and 16 mm film, VHS/SVHS, mini dv, betasp, HD, RED, digital and analog photography—in small and medium formats. My practice has incorporated these mediums individually or combined. In this new series I am working with mostly archival images off the Internet, which brings into the aesthetic another layer of technology—a combination of the pixel and the grain, which, in some of the works, takes on an uncanny resemblance to beadwork.
In addition, I am working with footage I shot at the ancient site of Writing on Stone, which houses one of the largest collections of ancient earthworks in Canada and which are mostly considered rendered by the “Sioux or other plains tribes” or even perhaps drawn by supernatural beings themselves. These ancient images, for me, maintain a connection to all our histories and suggest our human collective and connectivity to the ancients as well as a desire to render ourselves. Be it within cave paintings, rock art, earth drawings—humanity has been drawing itself since time immemorial. I have created large works with these particular images that both reflect an ancient indigenous past, but also suggest a spiritual connect to the cosmos and the natural and supernatural worlds.
There are still parts of American Indian histories in Canada and the United States that are buried. I am attempting to bring forth a reversal of a whitewash of history, by using vibrant colours to beautify the history and make historical discourses and research documents into to critical contemporary art that has been influenced by pop art, political art, shared and contested histories and all within the realm of pop. There is an element of seduction—the surface, which is sleek and slick, the colours, which are celebratory and fresh, then, the context and discourse settle in; this is a style of artistic flow found within my practice for the last twenty years.
The works are C-type prints on Endura paper, mounted on aluminum, and finished with UV laminate. The high-gloss further explores my intentions of considering fetish consumerism of Indigenous art and culture as a glossy surface with layers of meaning underneath. The slickness, the flatness, the vibrant colours, and the scale variations, combined, are attempting to make a highly aestheticised comment on ways of knowing and being in the world of knowledge, spirit, and art.