TIPI CON­FES­SIONS

UNIVER­SITY OF AL­BERTA FAC­ULTY OF NA­TIVE STUD­IES, ED­MON­TON

Canadian Art - - Reviews -

In the frosty nether-re­gions of De­cem­ber 2015, in Amiskwaci­wâskahikan (Beaver Hills House, also known as Ed­mon­ton), the Tipi Con­fes­sions col­lec­tive pro­vided par­tic­i­pants at the Univer­sity of Al­berta’s Fac­ulty of Na­tive Stud­ies’ Sym­po­sium on In­dige­nous Mas­culin­i­ties a se­duc­tively hot spa­tial in­ter­lude to a pri­mar­ily aca­demic gath­er­ing. The au­di­ence of univer­sity and com­mu­nity mem­bers par­tic­i­pated in a shame- and stigma-free sto­ry­telling event fea­tur­ing anony­mous au­di­ence con­fes­sions. The show fea­tured both hu­mour and vul­ner­a­bil­ity re­lated to de­colo­nial sex and sex­u­al­ity.

If com­ing to­gether around such in­ti­mate top­ics of­ten seems hard to do, let me tell you about when that magic hap­pens. Tipi Con­fes­sions, in­spired by the live-read­ing se­ries Bed­post Con­fes­sions, im­ported to Canada by Dr. Kim Tall­bear (Sis­se­ton-wah­peton Oy­ate) from Austin, Texas, is

a show that holds in­ti­mate space for laugh­ter and tears on the sub­ject of sex and sex­u­al­ity.

Tall­bear’s re­search both up­sets and works to un­set­tle colo­nial no­tions of love, re­la­tions and sex. She has part­nered with Dr. Tracy Bear (Ne­hiyaw’iskwew, Mon­treal Lake Cree Na­tion), whose re­search on the power and knowl­edge of the In­dige­nous erotic im­pres­sively con­nects ac­tion re­search with cre­ative sto­ry­telling, em­bod­ied ex­pres­sion and per­for­mance. With the ad­di­tion of the sul­trys­mooth voice of Jodi Stone­house (Cree and Mo­hawk des­cent from the Michel First Na­tion) as one of the show’s MCS, along with Bear, I’m re­minded of In­dige­nous aun­ties sit­ting around the kitchen ta­ble, drink­ing cof­fee and telling sala­cious jokes—and I’m lucky to stay up past my bed­time with them, tweet about it and co-pro­duce the show.

Since the de­but, our Tipi Con­fes­sions team, work­ing closely with Bed­post Con­fes­sions pro­duc­ers in Austin, has col­lab­o­rated with aca­demics, sex ed­u­ca­tors, com­mu­nity mem­bers and stu­dent groups across Ed­mon­ton, Saskatoon and Ot­tawa, where Tall­bear’s no­tion of be­ing routed through spa­ces, knowl­edges and re­la­tions best de­scribes the men­tor­ship, sol­i­dar­ity and col­lec­tive kin­ship of the Tipi Con­fes­sions en­ergy. We are rooted in the unique­ness of prairie and other land­scapes and sup­ported by the Bed­post Con­fes­sions ground­work. In the era of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Tipi Con­fes­sions is an In­dige­nous women–led, trans­for­ma­tive and gen­er­a­tive space of sex­ual heal­ing and re­lease for au­di­ences who wit­ness de­colo­nial sto­ries and per­for­mances. Au­di­ences also pro­duce the pow­er­ful and anony­mous con­fes­sions that are read on stage by the MCS. The con­fes­sions are al­ways the stars of the show.

The next op­por­tu­nity to share is June 22–24, at the Na­tive Amer­i­can and In­dige­nous Stud­ies As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence at the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia. Your walk of shame is no shame at all. End it with us. —KIRSTEN LINDQUIST

Tracy Bear per­forms at Prairie Con­fes­sions, Saskatoon, Oc­to­ber 2016 PHOTO CONOR MCNALLY

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