Figures of Affirmation

[Summer 2022]

Indigenous culture has long been oppressed in this country, but strong proud voices are now speaking out in public and are increasingly being heard. Here, we present three of these voices: they stand out for their use of photography as a central vehicle of their approach. Together, they offer a renewed vision of Indigenous identity, drawing on both tradition and contemporary realities and stamping a presence everywhere in the territory.

Portraits & Regalia

The Mustang Suite, Headdress, Lasso, and NDN Ironworkers offer a series of portraits, all taken in studio, with the subjects in poses that often have a performative dimension and sometimes surprising arrangements of objects, facial paint, and clothing. From the contemporary Indigenous family to the stouthearted high-rise construction workers, composite versions of the traditional totemic mask, and lasso manoeuvres by an “Indian” turned cowboy, the many identities of contemporary Indigeneity are joyously and proudly displayed.
with an essay by Skeena Reece

Indians on Tour

With the series Indians on Tour, started in 2000, Jeff Thomas undertook to make use of his travels to stamp an Indigenous presence in the landscape. Placed in the foreground of the image, the “Indian” figurine and its traditional garments haunts places colonized by modern culture to mark the antecedence of an Indigenous presence. This symbolic reconquest is perhaps most strongly expressed in front of places that, though silent, were significant to Indigenous history, and Thomas’s travel notes remind us of their importance.
with an interview by Carolyn Hickey

As Immense as the Sky

Meryl McMaster proposes to appropriate a territory – not an urban one, as Jeff Thomas does, but a natural one, the primeval land of Turtle Island. Her approach is based on a return, both symbolic and ritual, both performative and sculptural, to certain foundations of Indigenous culture, which she transmutes into mysterious and disturbing images. From earth to sky, from a twig to the blowing wind, each element contributes to a cosmogony reactivated by a contemporary and idiosyncratic vision of the world in which Indigenous existence is central. with an essay by Lori Beavis

[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 120 – FIGURES OF AFFIRMATION ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Figures of Affirmation ]