Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ

Nov 23, 2019



Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front


3:00 p.m.


A performance of Elisa Harkins’s project Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ (2017–), presented as part of her exhibition Teach Me A Song. Dressed in regalia, Harkins performed four songs that combined lyrics in Cherokee, English, and Muscogee Creek with electronic dance music—some of which were inspired by sheet music of Indigenous music notated by Daniel Chazanoff during the 20th century. With ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ translating to “money on a string,” the performance referenced wampum belts, Indigenous peacekeeping, and the Cherokee use of wampum beads as currency to create a metaphorical peacekeeping agreement with the audience. Singing to a backing track and incorporating live autotune, Harkins was joined by dancers Hanako Hoshimi-Caines and Zoë Poluch for the final two songs of her twenty-minute performance. As an act of Indigenous Futurism, Wampum / ᎠᏕᎳ ᏗᏕᎫᏗ combined disco melodies and popstar sensibilities with endangered Indigenous languages in an effort to activate and preserve them. 

Video documentation of this performance is available upon request.

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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.