Canadian Art - - Reviews -

Well-mean­ing peo­ple will of­ten ad­vise In­dige­nous me­dia artists to ex­plain In­dige­nous is­sues to an (as­sumed) non-in­dige­nous au­di­ence. We’re asked to gen­tly take their hands and lead them through the rough, tricky, ten­der re­al­i­ties of be­ing In­dige­nous in a con­tin­u­ally col­o­nized world. Fal­lon Simard doesn’t do that.

Simard’s work is ex­per­i­men­tal, and forces you to con­sider In­dige­nous is­sues with­out a friendly “In­dian” guide. Some of their work is more ab­stract, such as Womb (2016), a video of mostly pink, womb-like colours with flashes of blues and yel­lows, and the sounds of In­dige­nous sing­ing and muf­fled con­ver­sa­tion. As the vi­su­als and sounds shift, one is re­minded that In­dige­nous cul­tural iden­tity is formed even be­fore birth, as our moth­ers en­gage in our com­mu­ni­ties. There have been the­o­ries about in utero learn­ing from what hap­pens in the mother’s en­vi­ron­ment. My own mother was tak­ing a film­stud­ies course while she was preg­nant with me, and we have of­ten joked about her stud­ies hav­ing some kind of im­pact on my future life as a film­maker.

Simard tack­les more trau­matic re­al­i­ties of cur­rent In­dige­nous con­cerns in works such as Con­tin­u­ous Re­sis­tance Remix (2013), which cel­e­brates In­dige­nous rev­o­lu­tion while ac­knowl­edg­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­cal toll fight­ing state ter­ror has on us. Canada’s over­ar­ch­ing goal is re­source ex­trac­tion, not cre­at­ing a home and com­mu­nity. Many In­dige­nous peo­ple have said they be­long to the land, and not the other way around. Be­long­ing to the land im­plies a care­tak­ing role while we form a lov­ing in­ter­con­nected com­mu­nity, rather than tak­ing roles as­so­ci­ated with a re­source-based econ­omy. Protests shown in Simard’s video cre­ate fa­mil­iar feel­ings in In­dige­nous view­ers of com­mu­nal strug­gle, and frus­tra­tion that much of Canada doesn’t see the prob­lem in de­stroy­ing land, and the peo­ple be­long­ing to it, for profit.

In Land Be­comes Ghost (2016), screen­shots of news ar­ti­cles and protest ad­ver­tise­ments about the Site C Dam re­peat in a cy­cle with an anx­i­ety-pro­vok­ing sound­track. Tele­vi­sion static ob­scures the images as the ti­tle of the work re­minds us that lands that peo­ple have lived on and made a liv­ing work­ing with will soon be a dis­tant mem­ory. Simard’s work is firmly si­t­u­ated within a strong his­tory in Canada of ex­per­i­men­tal In­dige­nous video art. Their ex­per­i­men­tal, po­lit­i­cally charged work gets to the heart of is­sues of In­dige­nous sovereignty and strug­gle. —THIRZA CUT­HAND

Fal­lon Simard Land Be­comes Ghost (still) 2016 HD video 1 min 31 sec

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