A resounding success from the day it opened in November 2019, Àbadakone featured work by more than 70 contemporary Indigenous artists, identifying with almost 40 Indigenous nations, ethnicities and tribal affiliations from 16 countries, including Canada.
As we all continue to navigate the current pandemic, the Gallery is adding even more great content related to Àbadakone. Enhanced features include images and text from the actual exhibition, video highlights, artist interviews, and relevant NGC Magazine articles. And, for those interested in exploring individual works in greater depth, audioguide stops narrated by a gallery educator are now available here as well.
The exhibition was led by National Gallery of Canada curators Greg A. Hill, Christine Lalonde and Rachelle Dickenson, with consulting curators Candice Hopkins, Ariel Smith and Carla Taunton, and a team of advisors from around the world.
Ked eji ganawenindàgwak màmawe nitam wàbandahidiwin “Sakahan” Mikinàk-minitigong o-wàbandahidìwigamigong kà oshki wàbandahigàdeg 2013, eji ekidòmagak “Sakahan”, Kejeyàdizidjig kì mino mandjiwowag “Àbadakone” kidji wewenind ijinikàdeg iyo nìjin wàbandahidiwin wàbanda- hiwewàdj Anishinàbeg o-mazhinabìhige kaye wìyagi-kwenàdjichiganan.
Kà-ànikenamawindjig Cobàd (Stella Chabot), Kìshkànakwad (Earl McGregor) ashidj Pien Kìwekwad (Gà-ganawàbandang Ishkode), Kitigàn Zìbìng wendjibàdjig wìndimàgeg iye “Ishkode” kichi kije manidowan ondje Anishinàbeg, ashidj àbidad apìch mino-chìsakenàniwang. Mì dash eta, wàbandaman Wìyagi-kwenàdjichigan ashidj Anishinàbeg gà mazinabìhige kaye wìyagi-kwenàdjichigewàdj tedibà-Akìng, Keyeyàdizidjig mandjiwowag kàn chìsakewizinon, mì eta ondje pepejig Anishinàbe “o-Pìndàgina-Ishkodemiwàn”.
Kìshkànakwad kì ijinam ondje “Àbadakone” wàbandahidiwin. Ogì wàbandahiwen wàbandahidìwigamigong. Eji ànikanòtamàgedj Anishinàbe mazinabìhige kaye wìyagi-kwenàdjichigedjig tedibà-Akìng màmawe o-wìyagi-kwenàdjichigewaniwàn wendji “Àbadakoneg” wenzikàg o-mindonenindjiganiwàng, odeyiniwàng ashidj wendjibàwàdj.
– Kitigàn Zibi Pimàdjiwowigamig
In keeping with the National Gallery of Canada’s first exhibition Sakahàn – presented in 2013 – which means “lighting a fire,” the elders from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community felt that Àbadakone – “the fire continues to burn” – is an appropriate title for the second exhibition showcasing Indigenous Art from around the world.
Language Committee members Cobàd (Stella Chabot), Kìshkànakwad (Earl McGregor) and Pien Kìwekwad, also a Sacred Fire Keeper, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg explain that fire is sacred and spiritual to the Anishinàbe people, and is used in ceremonies. However, looking at the art and the Indigenous artists from all around world, the elders feel that Àbadakone is not in ceremony but in each individual’s Internal Flame.
Kìshkànakwad had a vision for the Àbadakone exhibition. He presented his idea to the Gallery. His interpretation is: Indigenous Artists from around the world with their artwork for which “the fire continues to burn” from their minds, hearts and communities.
– Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Cultural Centre
Explore highlights from Àbadakone via this virtual gallery and self-guided audio tour, featuring commentary by a gallery educator.
Aupilardjuk brings his Inuit knowledge and family history to his practice as a ceramic artist. This work is inspired by a family story. His parents nearly starved when a priest took their qulliq (a seal oil lamp used for heat and cooking) without reciprocating in kind. The outstretched arms holding the lamp contrast eerily with the outsized grasping hand emerging from the base of the figure, suggesting the tensions between contrasting world views inherent in colonial relationships.
The Ultrabeam is part of Mgoboza’s creation of the fictional utopian world of “Africadia.” The richly patterned textiles, traditionally worn by women, were brought to Africa from India via Dutch trade routes by German settlers. “Africadia” subverts the notion of binaries, and invites fluid readings of race, gender, class and nation.
Indicative of his various CIPX (Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange) series, Wilson creates images using painstaking photographic processes and equipment from the late 1800s and early 20th century, which he translates into digital images. Here the subject, Andy Everson, is depicted in traditional Kwakwaka’wakw regalia, which on closer inspection, is notable for its inclusion of a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet that he has carefully painted with Kwakwaka’wakw designs.
Ace’s richly embellished “trail dusters” – a customary southern Plains Indigenous moccasin technology used to erase the wearer’s footprints as they walked – evoke contemporary concerns about the traces of our “digital footprints.” Featuring Anishinaabe floral patterns that incorporate beads and electronic components with natural and synthetic materials, this work seamlessly combines traditional cultural practices Ace learned in childhood with references to more recent digital technology.
Salinder’s figures depict the Sikhirtya people who once occupied the land where the Nenets now live in northern Siberia, summoning a distant yet vital thread of history. He adorns them with leather and bone, alluding to the Sikhirtya’s legendary affinity for craft and to their tools of cultural practice such as lassos for reindeer herding. The artist also incorporates circles and holes into these figures to create a sense of harmony.
This significant weaving incorporates the artist’s contemporary designs in a manner she describes as harmonious with ancestral robes. It is both a meditation on the strength of community in Haida culture and a reminder of the importance of extending collective work into global contexts. The bold yet intricate patterns honour the waters of Haida Gwaii, recalling the nurturing rains, the rivers and streams and the oceans she describes as “connecting us all.”
Often depicting aspects of everyday life in his home of San Pedro La Laguna, Chavajay’s work contends with the contemporary conditions affecting his Tz'utujil community. The oar, camouflaged with traditional Tz'utujil textile patterns, all but disappears in front of the fabric itself. The relationship between the two objects blurs the genders in Mayan cosmology and honours the craftsmanship of men and women elders.
A self-described “visual activist,” Muholi uses the politics of representation and the aesthetics of photography to create spaces of recognition for queer black South Africans. This work is titled MaID, in reference both to “My Identity” and to the “demeaning name given to all subservient black women in South Africa.” Like much of their work, this insightful and provocative self-portrait challenges reductive, contrived views of blackness.
Agbodjelou is a leading Beninese photographer based in Porto-Novo, a city once known as the gateway to the transatlantic slave trade. In this series, local competitive bodybuilders pose with a theatrical bravado that contrasts with the soft floral props and decorative textiles of the backdrop and clothing. Part of a larger body of work, Citizens of Porto-Novo, this work reflects and subverts representations of African masculinity in studio portraiture.
Cuthand’s intricate beadwork series depicts diseases that affected Indigenous populations after their forced dislocation to reserves and the resulting changes to their traditional ways of life. These works examine a paradoxical feature of trade between Indigenous and European peoples during early colonization in Canada: prized colourful beads arrived alongside diseases that decimated many Indigenous populations. At once enticing and repellent, these unflinching works create a space for reflection.
Àbadakone – What is Performance Art?
Tribal Women Artists Cooperative – Maintaining our Traditions
Eleng Luluan – My life has involved constant wandering
Ikumagialiit [Those that need fire]
Sayo Ogasawara – Preserving our Language and Roots
Hannah Claus – A Relationship with the Viewer
Mata Aho – The Stories of Women
Joar Nango – A social gathering space
Jordan Bennett – Under the Stars