Rebecca Belmore: The Aesthetics of Indigenous Protest – 丽贝卡贝尔莫尔:本土抗议的美学

In the summer of 1990, the Canadian government deployed the largest number of troops since the Korean War. Tanks and guns and jackbooted soldiers arrived not overseas but in the small Quebecois town of Oka to enforce the construction of an additional nine holes on a local golf course. The extension of the leisure class’ grass playground would mean further destruction of The Pines, a traditional burial ground of the nearby Mohawk communities of Kanehsatàke and Kahnawake. In response to this threat, approximately 30 Mohawk men erected a barricade to block entrance into The Pines. After confrontation with local police, this blockade swelled. Canadian media and official record called it the Oka Crisis; for the Mohawks, it was the Oka Uprising. This, too, is how it is remembered by the hundreds of Native peoples throughout North America who followed the blockade on television, or travelled to join in arms, or learned about it years later, as I did from a future elder. As the artist Rebecca Belmore has said: ‘All Native people were affected by that summer.’ Like the shooting down of General George Custer during the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, it is one of our beloved victories.

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Rebecca Belmore: The Aesthetics of Indigenous Protest - 丽贝卡贝尔莫尔:本土抗议的美学

Rebecca Belmore, Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother, 1991, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist, Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives, Banff, and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; photograph: Pauline Martin

 

Oka made a lot of people angry. The settlers of Oka were angry that they couldn’t tee off on sacred grounds. Canadian liberals were angry at their government for marring their friendly image. Natives were angry about the continued settlement and desecration of their lands. Belmore, 39 years old at the time, was angry too, but after some reflection, she practised her own refusal. She turned away from the sociopolitical construct of Canada and looked instead to the land. The result was Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother (1991): a sculptural installation and performance centred around a megaphone that could be used to project Native voices out over the landscape. Nearly two metres in both length and width, the wooden megaphone appears from a distance to be floating. (It is usually propped up on log supports.) Belmore constructed the sculpture so it could be easily disassembled and toured to different Indigenous communities, where she invited people to speak their Native language to the land. She gave no further prescription. Some placed their lips directly on its aperture, while others inserted an electronic megaphone – the kind used at protests – to amplify their messages. In a brief 1992 documentary, Marjorie Beaucage records Belmore’s installation of Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother during a three-day visit to northwest Saskatchewan with the Protectors of Mother Earth Society during their blockade of Wiggins Bay, which at the time was being ‘developed’ by NorSask Forest Products. Development, like reconciliation, is one of many Canadian niceties for dispossession. In the documentary, one man leans into the megaphone and says, in English: ‘We are the future.’ Another group plays a fiddle jig. While being interviewed, Belmore speaks to her desire to make art not for the white critic but for the Native person, who can encounter and interact with the object as a critic in their own right. She does not eschew the aesthetic quality of the work but, rather, her landed practice argues that the aesthetics of Indigenous protest – what she has described as ‘poetic action’ – are best apprehended by those with the most at stake.

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Rebecca Belmore: The Aesthetics of Indigenous Protest - 丽贝卡贝尔莫尔:本土抗议的美学

Rebecca Belmore, Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother, 1991, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist, Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives, Banff, and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; photograph: Pauline Martin

Leanne Simpson, of Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg ancestry, writes in her 2011 book Dancing on our Turtle’s Back of Belmore’s ability to alter the landscape ‘to interrogate the space of empire’ and give a ‘glimpse of decolonized contemporary reality’. On the occasion of a career-spanning exhibit of Belmore’s work earlier this year at the Art Gallery of Ontario, ‘Facing the Monumental’, Simpson again reflects on the practice of refusal that animates the artist’s work in an interview with Belmore and the show’s curator, Wanda Nanibush. Though she has become one of the most famous Canadian artists, representing the settler-colonial nation at the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005, Belmore will always be, to Simpson’s mind, an artist for her people, the Anishinaabe. It is, perhaps, Belmore’s turning away from the standards and judgements of the white art world that has made her work so compelling. When white people sense something is not for them, they either scorn or covet it. But, ultimately, their approval or acceptance is irrelevant to what Belmore’s work seeks to activate in Indigenous communities. In her ability to both turn away from and manoeuvre the colonial context of the white-dominated art world, Belmore is a model for Indigenous artists, thinkers and activists across borders, such as Joi T. Arcand and the Postcommodity collective. Indigenous artists can never completely undo the hundreds of years of settler domination and destruction, but they have found ways to create their own worlds in spite of those conditions. These are interruptions that, as Simpson says, ‘invite me into freedom.’

Published in frieze, issue 199, November-December 2018, with the title ‘One Take: Invitation to Freedom’.

Main image: Rebecca Belmore, Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother, 1991, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist, Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives, Banff, and Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff; photograph: Pauline Martin

Lou Cornum

Lou Cornum is a diasporic Diné writer born and raised in Arizona, USA, and now living in Brooklyn, USA.

Features /

Rebecca Belmore
Lou Cornum
Art Gallery of Ontario
Indigenous Communities
One Take
Decolonizing Culture
Decolonization


1990夏季,加拿大政府自朝鲜战争以来部署了最多的军队。坦克、枪支和轻便马靴的士兵没有到达海外,而是到达了魁北克小镇奥卡,在当地的高尔夫球场上建造了另外九个洞。休閒阶层的草地游乐场的扩展将意味着松树园的进一步破坏,松树园是邻近的莫霍克社区Kanehsatàke和Kahnawake的传统墓地。为了应对这一威胁,大约30名莫霍克人竖起路障阻止松树进入。在与当地警察发生冲突后,封锁加强了。加拿大媒体和官方记录称这是OKA危机;对于莫霍克人来说,这是奥卡起义。这也是北美各地数百个土著民族如何记住的,他们跟随电视上的封锁,或前往参加武装,或多年后了解它,就像我从未来的长辈那里做的那样。正如艺术家丽贝卡·贝尔莫尔(Rebecca Belmore)所说:“所有原住民都受到了那个夏天的影响。”就像1876年小巨角战役中乔治·卡斯特将军被击毙一样,这是我们钟爱的胜利之一。2010-1509_cmyk.jpg Rebecca Belmore: The Aesthetics of Indigenous Protest - 丽贝卡贝尔莫尔:本土抗议的美学 Rebecca Belmore,Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan:对他们的母亲讲话,1991年,性能文档。礼貌:艺术家,保罗·D·弗莱克图书馆和档案馆,班夫,和沃尔特·菲利普斯美术馆,班夫;照片:鲍林·马丁·奥卡,让很多人生气。奥卡的定居者们愤怒地说,他们不能以神圣的理由离开。加拿大的自由派对他们政府的友好形象感到愤怒。当地人对他们土地的继续定居和亵渎感到愤怒。当时39岁的Belmore也很生气,但经过一番反思,她实践了自己的拒绝。她拒绝了加拿大的社会政治建构,而是转向土地。结果是Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan:和他们的母亲说话(1991年):一个雕塑装置和表演围绕着扩音器进行,扩音器可以用来将土著人的声音投射到整个景观中。在长度和宽度上接近两米,木制扩音器从远处浮现。贝莫尔建造了这座雕塑,以便于拆卸和游览不同的土著社区,她邀请人们向这片土地讲土著语言。她没有进一步的处方。有些人把嘴唇直接贴在口径上,而另一些人则插入了电子扩音器——用于抗议的那种——来放大他们的信息。在一部简短的1992年纪录片中,Marjorie Beaucage记录了贝尔莫安装Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan:在他们封锁威金斯湾期间,在萨斯喀彻温省西北部为期三天的“地球母亲保护者”协会访问期间对母亲的演讲。诺斯克森林产品“开发”。发展,像和解一样,是加拿大许多为剥夺财产而采取的措施之一。在纪录片中,一名男子探身对着扩音器用英语说:“我们是未来。”另一组人演奏小提琴吉他。在接受采访时,贝尔莫尔谈到了她不想为白人批评家而是为土著人创作艺术的愿望,土著人能够以批评家的身份与作品相遇并互动。她并不回避作品的审美品质,相反,她的落地实践认为,土著抗议的美学——她所描述的“诗意的行动”——最容易被利益攸关的人理解。2010-1504_cmyk.jpg Rebecca Belmore: The Aesthetics of Indigenous Protest - 丽贝卡贝尔莫尔:本土抗议的美学 Rebecca Belmore,Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan:对他们的母亲讲话,1991年,性能文档。礼貌:艺术家,保罗·D·弗莱克图书馆和档案馆,班夫,和沃尔特·菲利普斯画廊,班夫;照片:米奇·萨吉格·尼什那阿伯祖先的保林·马丁·利安·辛普森,在她2011年的书《在我们的海龟背上跳舞·贝尔莫尔改变风景的能力》中写道E“审问帝国的空间”,并“瞥见非殖民化的当代现实”。在今年早些时候在安大略美术馆“面对纪念碑”举办的贝尔莫尔作品展期间,辛普森在接受贝尔莫尔和展览馆馆长旺达·南布什的采访时,再次反思了拒绝让这位艺术家的作品充满活力的做法。尽管在2005年第51届威尼斯双年展上,贝娄尔成为最著名的加拿大艺术家之一,代表了殖民地移民国家,但在辛普森看来,贝娄尔永远是她的人民Anishinaabe的艺术家。也许是贝尔莫尔背离了白人艺术界的标准和判断,才使得她的作品如此引人注目。当白人感觉到某些东西不适合他们时,他们要么轻蔑,要么觊觎。但最终,他们的认可或接受与Belmore的作品在土著社区中寻求激活无关。贝尔莫尔既能摆脱白人主导的艺术世界的殖民语境,又能驾驭殖民语境,是土著艺术家、思想家和跨国界活动家的典范,如乔伊·T·奥坎德和邮政商品集团。原住民艺术家永远无法完全消除几百年来殖民者的统治和破坏,但是他们已经找到方法去创造他们自己的世界,尽管有这些条件。正如辛普森所说,“邀请我进入自由”,这些插曲发表在2018年11月至12月的第199期《弗里兹》上,标题为“一次尝试:邀请自由”。主要形象:Rebecca Belmore,AYUM EE AAHACH OOMAMA MOWAN:告诉他们的母亲,1991,性能文档。礼貌:艺术家,保罗·D·弗莱克图书馆和档案馆,班夫,和沃尔特·菲利普斯画廊,班夫;照片:鲍林·马丁·卢·康南·卢·康南,一个在亚利桑那州出生和长大的流亡作家,美国,现在住在美国布鲁克林。安大略省土著社区艺术馆非殖民化


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