Earnestness and effort are in short supply. Our postmodern condition is characterized by distrust, cynicism, and satire.
Understandable, what is the alternative in a time rife with call-outs, cancel culture, self-righteous punitive shaming, and online mob justice?
For many, the risks seem too great. Inaction and apathy become defence mechanisms for self-preservation. Whereas for some of us, there is no other option than to actualize the totality of our capabilities in order to help alleviate suffering for self and other.
But this begs the question, from where does this motivation originate and how do we inspire it in others? In essence a lifework, this is the seemingly simple question asked formally through I Won't Let You Leave My Love Behind.
IWLYLMLB responds to research undertaken at the American Museum of Natural History conducted by myself and my cousin, Trish Nolie (ʼNak̕waxdaʼx̱w). At the AMoNH we were granted full access to the ʼNak̕waxdaʼx̱w and Da̱ʼnaxdaʼx̱w archive artifacts ‘brought’ from West Coast British Columbia by George Hunt and Franz Boas during the Canadian potlach ban which lasted from 1885 - 1951. No restrictions were put on Trish who was encouraged to hold, wear, and interact with the objects as she saw fit.
When I asked Trish whether these items should be returned (repatriated) she responded, "Nah, they're safe here. They’re dead objects if they're not being used in ceremony. Besides, that's why you're here. To document them so we can make new ones.”
Situating myself as a Canadian colonial-settler of British decent, this series is part of a larger artistic endeavour that explores the fraught nuances of privilege and possibility in relation to truth and reconciliation, especially between Canadian settlers and First peoples.