The Indigenous way

Investigation by Bénédicte Ramade

Summary

Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything, published in 2014, perfectly explains and analyzes (amongst other merits) the role and impact of First Nations in the struggle to protect nature from the greed of international mining corporations. Are Indigenous artistic practices a reflection of this changing situation, wherein minority populations in Canadian society are being given access to a new kind of power? Through the artistic and conceptual standards established by previous American environmental art movements, and through the singular understanding that Indigenous cultures have of nature’s reign, artworks by Canadian artists can be analyzed for insight into the esthetic and political renewal of environmental art. They also suggest an avenue for emancipating Indigenous art from the limitations of their typical exhibition circuit and critical discussion.

[ 1 ]

This denomination can lead to some confusion. According to the literature, environmental art sees itself as an art of monumental installations where entire environments are imagined by artists; as producing artworks that take an environmental stance; or even simply as conveying a sense of nature. There seems to be no consensus and the nomenclature continues to grow. We will continue to use ‘environmental art’ for lack of better terms.

[ 2 ]

Sabine Rabourdin, Les sociétés traditionnelles au secours des sociétés modernes, Paris, Delachaux et Niestlé, 2005, p.31.

[ 3 ]

Frédéric Deroche, Les peuples autochtones et leur relation originelle à la terre, un questionnement pour l’ordre mondial, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2008, p.35.

[ 4 ]

Id., Ibid., p.47.

[ 5 ]

Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, Great Britain, Penguin Books, 2015, p.372.

[ 6 ]

Id., Ibid., p.424.

[ 7 ]

Id., Ibid., p.428-429.

[ 8 ]

Id., Ibid., (p. 437).

[ 9 ]

Jean-Philippe Uzel, « L’autochtonie dans l’art actuel québécois. Une question partagée », Globe : revue internationale d’études québécoises, vol.17, n°1, 2014, p.38.

[ 10 ]

Id., Ibid.

[ 11 ]

Guy Sioui-Durand, « L’onderha », Inter, n°122, décembre 2015, p.4.

Since the 1960s, art has turned the environment into both a medium and a subject by following strategies that, through the testimonial power of images, allow it to stand in equal measure as a guardian, prosecutor, or a pragmatic restorative action developed in dysfunctional environments. These stances come from a Western conception of nature and…

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