Speaking to the Old Ones

Sep 3 — Nov 18, 2009



Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver


Western Front and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia presented two interrelated group exhibitions curated by Peter Morin, who was the curator-in-residence at Western Front.

Speaking in Landscape Tongues took place at Western Front and Speaking to the Old Ones took place at the Museum of Anthropology. Both exhibitions represented the collective investigations of some of North America’s leading Indigenous artists, who explored the significance of Indigenous language speaking as it relates to their creative practices.

This offsite exhibition, Speaking to the Old Ones, featured new media and video installations by Kevin Burton, Helen Haig-Brown, Jason Lujan, and James Nicholas and Sandra Semchuk.

Within the museum, video monitors were installed that played the artists’ own interpretation of stories in the languages that were intrinsic in the formation of Indigenous cultural practices and community. These screens—which directly faced the permanent collection of cedar carvings, house posts, and totem poles anachronistically housed in the Museum of Anthropology’s Great Hall—relocated and retold colonized and flattened cultural histories. This willful recording and broadcast of Indigenous worldviews in direct conversation with the museum’s objects related and reforged the experience of telling stories between elders and youth, between communities, between urban experiences and history, and between Indigenous community objects and their making.

Curated by Peter Morin.

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Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.