Storytelling and Stewardship

Sep 17 — Nov 26, 2022



Storytelling and Stewardship was a group exhibition, public programs, and artist residencies that considered place-based knowing and environmental stewardship through the work of British Columbia-based artists Jaime Adams, Siku Allooloo, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, and Jay Pahre. Each artist employs narrative methods to presence ancestors, plants, and animals as an instructive way of being in relationship with the worlds we live in and are responsible for. Whether Indigenous, settler, or migrant, Storytelling and Stewardship asked how we relate to land and place as a host, traveler, or guest.

Jaime Adams’s contribution to the exhibition was drawn from her series The Ecological Influence of Allelopathy (2021–) of analogue photographs documenting Maplewood Flats Conservation Area. Located on the unceded and ancestral lands of the səl̓ílwətaʔɬ Nation, it is the largest remaining tidal mudflat on the North Shore. Adams undertakes habitat restoration here to remediate invasive plants and toxins introduced through colonization and industry. Using weeds removed from the site, Adams extracts plant-based developers to process her black-and-white films, and soups her colour negatives in seawater and freshwater collected from Maplewood Flats. Heavy metals in the water interact visibly with the film emulsion, as the site further contributes to the final landscape image.

Using a similar process, Siku Allooloo’s experimental documentary Spirit Emulsion (2022), was filmed on Super 8 and developed by hand with plant medicines and botanicals collected from Denendeh (Northwest Territories, Canada) where she was born and raised, and the Coast Salish territories where the film was made. Through this, Allooloo evokes her culture and the legacy of her late mother, Haitian/Taíno activist Marie-Hélène Laraque, by connecting earth to cosmos, as flowers portray family love and ancestral sovereignty extending into the future. The film also serves as “an opening prayer” for a feature-length documentary that Allooloo continued to develop in residence at Western Front.

Through sculptural processes, Jay Pahre forefronts the shifting ecologies of the Great Lakes and Great Plains region. His transformation of matter creates works that speak to the entangled existence of animals and extractive industries in these areas. Referencing both a specific wetland ecology and a process in Slough (2022), snake skins shed through growth, environmental stress, or temperature shifts and are transformed through the heat-based process of bronze casting. In Awn (2022), aluminum and copper-coated steel wire is cut and hooked through gauze, taking on the appearance of animal’s fur; specifically the middle layer that offers weather protection and regulates temperature. In the ecologies of the plains, grass tips also create awn; these are tenacious seeds that imbed in fur to spread over the land and propagate. While residence at Western Front in fall 2022, Pahre developed a new body of speculative writings with field recordings that were broadcast online and tuned to weather formations across Gitchi-Gami (Lake Superior) and Minong (Isle Royale).

In lieu of an opening, a moment for gathering was held on November 12, 2022 for a live presentation by Bracken Hanuse Corlett in collaboration with Dean Hunt. Performing as See Monsters, the duo used live visuals and music to tell a dark sea monster story that gave presence to relationships with unceded land, sacred sites, complex river systems, and hunting and gathering grounds, while acknowledging the history and present of what is now called “Vancouver.” 

Curated by Paula Booker.


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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.