JENEEN FREI NJOOTLI

Canadian Art - - Generously Supported By Rbc -

A mem­ber of the Vun­tut Gwitchin First Na­tion in the Yukon, Jeneen Frei Njootli is an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary artist cur­rently liv­ing in Van­cou­ver. Her re­cent se­ries of per­for­mances, in­stal­la­tions and sculp­tures, LUX | MAM (2016–17), stem from be­ing un­able to pull-start a ski-doo with her aunt when she vis­ited her Yukon home. Upon mov­ing to Van­cou­ver, Frei Njootli found that her phys­i­cal strength, and the knowl­edge in­her­ent in that strength gained from liv­ing on the land, waned as she spent more time with books by Gram­sci and oth­ers. And so Frei Njootli ac­ti­vates com­pos­ite ex­er­cise equip­ment—a beaded skip­ping rope in a Gwitchin mitt string pat­tern, ex­er­cise mats—to ex­am­ine the hege­mony of West­ern knowl­edge sys­tems and the schol­arly the­o­riz­ing of labour. By us­ing this equip­ment in front of an au­di­ence—and leav­ing be­hind ephemera—frei Njootli points to the fetishiza­tion of In­dige­nous labour and knowl­edge. Col­lab­o­ra­tion is also key. Her per­for­mance with Tsema Igha­ras (see pages 77 and 86) ex­plores the re­la­tion­ship be­tween In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and in­dus­try through the mo­tif of the braid. Frei Njootli and Igha­ras braid their hair to­gether with strands of rope and neon flagging tape, cre­at­ing two um­bil­i­cal cord–like jump ropes that speak to the in­oc­u­lat­ing in­flu­ence of kin­ship against re­source ex­trac­tion in In­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Jeneen Frei Njootli LUX | MAM I 2016 Red la­tex and cari­bou antler 25.4 x 55.9 x 2.5 cm COUR­TESY MA­CAULAY AND CO. FINE ART PHOTO BARB CHOIT

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