This summer, contemporary Indigenous art takes centre stage at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in the ambitious exhibition Sakahn: International Indigenous Art. Poetic, unexpected and challenging, some 150 artworks by over 75 artists from around the world celebrate and interrogate distinct cultural, political and social moments experienced by Indigenous peoples. On view until September 2, 2013, Sakahn is organized by the National Gallery of Canada, supported by the RBC Foundation and sponsored by CN. For more information, visit gallery.ca/sakahan.
"Sakahn: International Indigenous Art marks the beginning of an ambitious endeavour that is very close to our hearts: celebrating and showcasing the works of Aboriginal artists from around the world," said NGC director and CEO Marc Mayer. "Indigenous art has been an important part of our national collection for over 50 years, and Sakahn underscores our commitment to Indigenous artists both local and international."
Sakahn, meaning "to light a fire" in the language of the Algonquin peoples, is the largest survey of recent Indigenous art organized by a national institution. The exhibition features artworks by award-winning artists, including Rebecca Belmore, Brian Jungen, and Annie Pootoogook from Canada as well as internationally renown artists as Jimmie Durham (United States/Italy/Germany), Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand), and Teresa Margolles (Mexico/Spain). It also presents artists who have not yet received widespread exposure in North America, such as Toru Kaizawa (Japan), Venkat Raman Singh Shyam (India), and Outi Pieski (Finland). The artists' approaches are as varied as their chosen media, which include performance art, drawing, installations, painting, photography, sculpture and video. Several new works will be created specifically for the exhibition.
Contemporary Indigenous art will also be in the spotlight at partner organizations, galleries and institutions who will be presenting exciting installations and exhibitions alongside Sakahn. The confirmed partners include: Carleton University Art Gallery, Gallery 101, SAW Gallery, Ottawa Art Gallery, SAW Video Media Art Centre, Ottawa School of Art, Aboriginal Art Centre, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
The curatorial team of Sakahn: International Indigenous Art is Greg Hill, NGC Audain Curator of Indigenous Art; Christine Lalonde, NGC Associate Curator of Indigenous Art; and Candice Hopkins, NGC Elizabeth Simonfay Guest Curator.
Contemporary Indigenous art around the world
To best represent a broad spectrum of Indigenous artists, the curatorial team worked with an international advisory committee. The advisors fulfilled various roles, providing historical and cultural background, highlighting current events and issues, recommending artists and other possible participants, acting as liaisons with artists and cultural agencies, and providing feedback on the conceptual framework of the exhibition. Over the course of three years, the curatorial team also made more than 50 research trips to meet artists and visit galleries and arts agencies in over 10 countries and regions. Thanks to this collaborative effort, the exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Greenland, Guatemala, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Norway, Samoa, Taiwan and the United States.