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Arrival of coppers and masks to Ottawaduring the Awaleskenis II Journey, July 27, 2014

Arrival of coppers and masks to Ottawa during the Awaleskenis II Journey, July 27, 2014 [Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jan 16-Apr 17] Photo: Bernadette Phan

Beau Dick: Lalakenis/All Directions,
A Journey of Truth and Unity

Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
Vancouver BC – Jan 16-Apr 17, 2016

In a recent Momus essay entitled “First Nations Art and the Matter of Its Politics, “ critic Clint Burnham provides a brief history of copper and its symbolic importance among Northwest Coast First Nations, particularly the Haida and Kwakwaka’wakw. Fashioned as shields, “coppers” provided a surface for carvings and paintings. These pieces were also “named, had stories attached to them, and were not only traded but made the objects of potlatches.”

In July 2014 – 63 years after the Canadian government lifted its legislated Potlatch Ban (1885–1951) – Kwakwaka’wakw artist Beau Dick and 22 companions set out from the University of British Columbia (where Dick teaches) for Ottawa’s Parliament Hill. Their purpose: to break six copper shields in an effort to raise awareness of our declining natural environment and an equally declining relationship between the federal government and First Nations peoples.

Documented on social media, much of Dick’s journey, including stops at sympathetic communities, is presented in this exhibit in a variety of media, from the lens-based to the performative. Also on display are sacred objects gathered from the visited communities, as well as the broken copper shields that, according to custom, mark a ruptured relationship in need of repair.

belkin.ubc.ca

Michael Turner

During the copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 27, 2014

During the copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 27, 2014 [Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jan 16-Apr 17] Photo: Sue Heel


During the copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 27, 2014

During the copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 27, 2014 [Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jan 16-Apr 17] Photo: Sue Heel

Arrival of coppers and masks to Ottawaduring the Awaleskenis II Journey, July 27, 2014

During the copper-breaking ceremony on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, July 27, 2014 [Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jan 16-Apr 17] Photo: Sue Heel


 Sun, Nov 8, 2015