Resistance is Fertile
About the Artwork
The visionary work of Skawennati spans physical and virtual worlds. Her “machinimas” and “machinimagraphs” – films and photographs shot entirely in online environments – trailblaze new modes of sovereignty on digital terrain while insisting on Indigenous thriving in her home territories of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) people and beyond. The piece on view here is from the multimedia project “Calico & Camouflage”, which includes a fashion collection designed by Skawennati featuring traditional ribbon shirts, recognised as part of Haudenosaunee regalia, and camouflage patterns that reference histories of contact with settlers, colonial violence, and ongoing Indigenous resistance. This human-size print mounted on laser-cut aluminum was first presented at ELLEPHANT in Montréal, in the exhibition Calico & Camouflage: Demonstrate! Set among vinyl prints and clothed mannequins, Resistance is Fertile was an exercise in bridging the physical and the virtual. This figure also appeared in a four-channel video installation at Yonge-Dundas Square in Tkaron:to/Toronto, during Contact Photography Festival, that summoned a phalanx of stylish, Indigenous, activist avatars to assert alternative, hopeful futures from digital screens usually reserved for advertisers. The declaration on her sign asserts the endless potential that arises from daring to imagine different, emancipatory possibilities.
Resistance is Fertile
Shaped Archival Pigment Print on Aluminium
Edition of 3 + 1 AP
36" x 102"
Courtesy the artist and Ellephant, Montréal
Skawennati was born in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory, and is a member of the Turtle Clan. She holds a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she is based. She is Co-Director of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, creating and critiquing Indigenous virtual environments. Her work was featured in The Polygon’s 2022 show Ghosts of the Machine, and recent exhibition highlights include the permanent exhibition On This Ground: Being and Belonging in America at the Peabody Essex Museum; and Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, which was named the 2021 Exhibition of the Year by the Association of Art Museum Curators. Her works are in the collections of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Thoma Foundation, among others. She is honoured to have received a 2022 Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions Grant; a 2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship; a Visiting Artist Fellowship at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library; and an Honorary Doctorate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Skawennati is based in Tiohtia:ke/Montréal, where she is represented by Ellephant.
Photo: Roger Lemoyne