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The UnexplainedEnlarge image

The Unexplained, 1989

Carl Beam
Canadian, 1943 - 2005
photo emulsion, mixed media on canvas
213.4 x 152.4 cm
Purchased 2007
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42025)

The Greek lettering at top translates as "the words omitted." The two Apache gan dancers are the human physical manifestation of mountain spirits, while the figures beneath come from the 15th-century French painting "The Pieta of Villeneuve-lès-Avignon". Equal weight is given to these images of Christian and Aboriginal spirituality through their juxtaposition. They become the "unexplained" of the title, a reference to Beam's belief in the importance of ambiguity.

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Indigenous

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