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Brendan Fernandes Canada, 1979
digital video disk (DVD), 4:39 minutes Purchased 2011
National Gallery of Canada (no. 43462)
Brendan Fernandes' work often reflects on stereotypes of cultural identity. Foe shows the Kenyan-born artist of Indian (Goan) heritage standing in front of a blackboard reading from J.M. Coetzee's "Foe" (the South African author's "sequel" to "Robinson Crusoe"). The artist responds to prompts from an acting coach employed to teach him accents reflecting his cultural background. Fernandes recites a line in which Crusoe explains how his sidekick Friday has had his tongue removed. Friday's fate can be "a metaphor for violence experienced through colonialism," explains Fernandes. "The act of cutting out a person's tongue takes away the ability to speak, hence enforcing the power relationship so evident in the work."