From Nov. 7th to Dec. 4th, my ethnographic video collaboration with media artist Richard Wilson, Active Pass to IR9, will be a part of the exhibition Ethnographic Terminalia at the DuMois Gallery in New Orleans. Full disclosure: I am a part of the Ethnographic Terminalia curatorial collective, a group that formed to explore the disciplinary and methodological boundaries of ethnography and art, to seek new venues for our work, and new ways to bring experimental forms of ethnographic expression into contact with Anthropology. Our first exhibition was help last November at the Crane Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA, in conjunction with the meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA). This year we are excited to be bringing a new group of artists-ethnographers and ethnographer artists to New Orleans for this year’s AAA.
ACTIVE PASS TO IR9 is a video-based ethnographic collaboration between Richard Wilson and me. We grew up together on Galiano Island, in British Columbia. The silent video projection depicts the full length of the Porlier Pass Road on Galiano Island, from the ferry terminal at the south end to the Penelekut Indian Reserve #9 at the north end. Two fields of scrolling text on either side of the represent memories and associations that Richard and I each have with this physical space and our individual understandings of place as we move through it together for the first time. The texts are generated from transcripts of our conversation while driving. Richard reflects on his ongoing search for knowledge of his own culture, language, and family, as well as the question of Aboriginal rights and the role of the fishing in the recognition of rights. I reflect on my position as a recent settler, and questions her knowledge of her own family history and the Aboriginal history and present of the island.
Active Pass to IR9 premiered at the 2008 New Forms Festival in Vancouver B.C., where it was juxtaposed with an exhibit of innovative online Aboriginal media projects. Where Active Pass to IR9 raises questions about the way knowledge and understanding can be obscured within and between members of communities, these on-line projects also suggested that knowledge and understanding might be generated in virtual spaces in ways they cannot be on the ground. At the same time, such representations of Indigeneity on-line demand discussion about the capacity of the Internet and digital technologies to share knowledge more widely than ever before, potentially an extension of the colonial project, rather than a technologically mediated solution to real social problems in and between local Aboriginal and Settler communities. Active Pass to IR9, which was generated with digital technology and publicly posted online, is implicated in this complex web of real and virtual communities and places.
A little more about my friend and collaborator Richard Wilson:
Richard Wilson is from the Hwlitsum First Nation and was born on Galiano Island in British Columbia, Canada where he now resides with his family. Richard is an independent multi media artist who has worked in many facets of film and theatre. His resume includes work in production, stage-managing, acting, and camera work as well as a sound and visuals technician. He has been honored to work with some of Canada’s premiere Aboriginal artists on projects across the country from Cooper Thunderbird at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, to The Edward Curtis Project in The Northwest Territories, to The Ecstasy of Rita Joe on Vancouver’s down town east side. Richard is currently in the development stage for a television pilot about Aboriginal health in Canada.