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THE COUNTER/SELF Artists in Conversation: The Subversive Power of the Alter-Ego (Part 1)

A program of:

Thursday, March 16, 2023
6pm–8pm ET
Online on Zoom

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With Meryl McMaster, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Jamie Griffiths, and Adrian Stimson.

THE COUNTER/SELF exhibition investigates artistic strategies of creating alter-egos to challenge hegemonic discourse and ingrained oppressive attitudes. Foregrounding absented perspectives and counteracting colonial narratives, these personas articulate forms of resistance or gesture to alternative ways of being counterparts in genuine dialogue. In an informal conversation, Meryl McMaster, Adrian Stimson, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Jamie Griffith will discuss the ways in which they position themselves in relation, confrontation or opposition to dominant socio-political forces and mind frames through the characters they embody.  

This event is free and is open to the public.

About the Speakers

Meryl McMaster (b. 1988) creates dreamlike photographic self-portraiture that crosses timescales, blending moments, lifetimes, generations, and geological eras. Drawing from her nēhiyaw (Plains Cree) and Euro-Canadian ancestry she constructs site-specific scenes with labour-intensive garments. McMaster’s work reinforces the intersections between actual and imagined experiences, in hopes of better understanding oneself, our histories, lineage and a more-than-human world.  

McMaster’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (2023), Urban Shaman, Winnipeg (2021), McCord Steward Museum, Montréal (2021), Canada House, London (2020), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2019) and The Image Centre, Toronto (2019).

McMaster was shortlisted for the Rencontres d’Arles New Discovery Award (2019), was the recipient of the Scotiabank New Generation Photography Award (2018), REVEAL Indigenous Art Award (2017), and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship (2013).  

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory is a multi-award-winning Inuk poet and performance artist, working across issues of indigenous cultural politics, de-colonisation, social activism, climate change and language reclamation. She uses uaajeerneq (Greenlandic mask dancing), poetry, theatre, film, and performance art to tackle topics ranging from colonization, sexuality, intergenerational strength, fear, boundaries, and love. Winner of the 2021 Sobey Art Prize, Williamson Bathory is previously winner of the Sinchi Indigenous Award (2020), the Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award (2018), and co-winner of a Dora Mavor Moore Award (2018). She often collaborates with friend and colleague Jamie Griffiths, recently creating Timiga, Nunalu, Sikulu (2018) for the touring exhibition #CallResponse, Silaup Putunga (2019), acquired by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and White Liar and The Known Shore: Frobisher and the Queen (2021), currently presented as part of THE COUNTER/SELF. In summer 2022, they co-created Contamination Hidden Beneath the Ground a 360 immersive video-sonic poem installation at the K21 Museum in Dusseldorf, Germany. In 2019, Williamson Bathory and Griffiths launched Ikumagialiit, a performance art show quartet in collaboration with Cris Derksen and Christine Tootoo. A live performance was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada for the international Indigenous art exhibition Abadakone (2019). Laakkuluk lives with her family in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Jamie Griffiths is a digital artist, film director & performer. Born and raised in South London, England, Jamie emigrated to Vancouver in her early 20’s, working since then as a photographer, filmmaker, digital artist and teaching interactive technology for the arts. Early hardcore photographic portraits in outsider and LGBTQIA cultures of the 1980’s and 90’s, morphed into experimental technologies for live performance. Jamie built custom tools and digital systems for extracting a therapeutic experience as part of the artistic process. Jamie’s latest works explore identity conflict, colonialism and displacement through photography, experimental film and live performance. Jamie moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut in 2015, where she has been collaborating with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory on artworks since 2016. Jamie is also a co-founding member of the Ikumagialiit Performance Art Band, with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Cris Derksen and Christine Tootoo.

Film and photography projects and collaborations have been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, Remai Modern Art Museum, Nuuk International Film Festival, La Ferme Du Buisson (Paris, France), Museum of Modern Art (Bogota), Foundling Museum (London), Marion Scott Gallery (Vancouver/Toronto Art Fair). Permanent collections include the Art Gallery of Ontario (2019), BMO Art Collection (2022) and Foreign Affairs Canada (2022), and private collections. Performance work and video projection designs include The National Gallery of Canada, Museum of Anthropology & The International PuSh Festival (Vancouver) and the Southbank Centre (London).

Adrian Stimson is a member of the Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, Treaty 7 Territory, in southern Alberta, Canada. He graduated with a BFA (with distinction) from the Alberta University for the Arts, and an MFA from the University of Saskatchewan. He is an interdisciplinary artist and exhibits nationally and internationally. Stimson’s paintings are primarily monochromatic, depicting bison in imagined landscapes. They evoke ideas cultural fragility, resilience and nostalgia. The British Museum recently acquired two paintings for their North American Indigenous collection. Stimson’s performance art looks at identity construction, specifically the hybridization of the Indian, the cowboy, the shaman and Two Spirit being. His installation work primarily examines the residential school experience. He has used the material culture from Old Sun Residential School on his Nation to create works that speak to genocide, loss, and resilience. Recently Stimson participated in a collaboration with Yoko Ono and her ongoing Water Project at Contemporary Calgary, 2021. His public sculptural work includes Spirit of Alliance in Saskatoon, Bison Sentinel in the healing gardens of the First Nations University of Canada, Regina, and most recently Inii Bison Heart installed in Calgary. Team Stimson is currently shortlisted to create The National Monument to Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, located in Ottawa. Stimson was awarded the Governor General Award for Visual and Media Arts in 2018, REVEAL Indigenous Arts Award – Hnatyshyn Foundation 2017, Blackfoot Visual Arts Award in 2009, Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003. He has exhibited in three International Biennales – Photo Quai, Paris, France 2009, The Shoreline Dilemma, Toronto 2019, and Nirin, Sydney, Australia 2020. 

Title Image: Meryl McMaster, Calling Me Home, from the series As Immense as the Sky, 2019. Digital C-print. Courtesy of © Meryl McMaster; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montreal.

Page Image (clockwise): Adrian Stimson, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Meryl McMaster, and Jamie Griffiths.

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