Bonds, ties and net­works in 10 emerg­ing prac­tices

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Bonds, ties and net­works in 10 emerg­ing prac­tices

by Erin Suther­land

when my kokum smiles the wrin­kles that gather at the cor­ner of her eye are rivers lead­ing me home.

—Sa­man­tha Marie Nock, “Pipon,” 2016

Rivers and streams—con­stel­la­tions writ­ten on the land, con­nect­ing and di­verg­ing—lead us to our var­i­ous homes. Think­ing of kin­ship, I see pat­terns of re­la­tion­ships, a spi­der­web of stars and plan­ets—fam­i­lies, friends, those who in­spire us— sup­port­ing us as we walk our paths. Each of us has mul­ti­ple, in­ter­con­nect­ing net­works of kin that are linked to us through blood, oth­ers through friend­ship, still oth­ers through com­mon in­ter­ests or ge­og­ra­phy. How­ever the pat­tern emerges, these net­works sur­round us in com­mu­ni­ties that chal­lenge and sup­port, fo­cus and in­spire.

I have ap­proached this spot­light as a cu­ra­to­rial project in which I use con­stel­la­tions of kin and vis­it­ing as a method­ol­ogy. As a cu­ra­tor and re­searcher I un­der­stand that my re­la­tion­ship with In­dige­nous art is in­formed by the con­nec­tions I have made with oth­ers who have sup­ported me through con­ver­sa­tions. I have reached out to that net­work and have asked them to con­nect me to emerg­ing artists whose work en­gages with ideas of kin. Through­out this process, I was linked to a wide range of in­cred­i­ble In­dige­nous artists on Tur­tle Is­land. I have used what Wi­isaakodewinini/métis artist, ac­tivist and writer Dylan Miner terms “method­olo­gies of vis­it­ing”: an In­dige­nous way of know­ing that em­pha­sizes vis­it­ing, sto­ry­telling and love, and that fo­cuses on the im­por­tance of oral knowl­edge and time spent to­gether as a way of build­ing and main­tain­ing com­mu­ni­ties and re­la­tion­ships, and as­sert­ing In­dige­nous sovereignty. I spoke with many of the artists sug­gested to me, and through this process cre­ated new re­la­tion­ships and broad­ened the net­work to which I am al­ready con­nected. This project, then, ex­plores the ways in which a num­ber of emerg­ing artists are in­ves­ti­gat­ing ideas of kin and com­mu­nity. Through this process of in­tro­duc­ing the work of artists, I map out a con­stel­la­tion of re­la­tion­ships within the very broad and di­verse field of In­dige­nous arts.

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