Historicity reaches the Woodland Cultural Centre

BRANTFORD — The Woodland Cultural Centre [WCC] opened its newest glimpse into history with the Historicity Exhibit by New York based Artist Alan Michelson in the evening of Saturday, September 15.

Michelson, an internationally recognized artist, lecturer, curator, writer and Six Nations member, presented the collection of works as part of new and recent new-media that he has used to create works that focus on site-specific art grounded in local context of history.

He makes use of video and audio recordings, projectors and more, which strikes many as innovative but can leave some wondering “why?”

“I used to be a painter,” said Michelson. “I got interested in moving beyond the canvas because there were things that I wanted to explore and wanted to say that I didn’t know how to say as a painter.”

“So I started moving into three dimensions and I started moving into installation work and eventually I started doing video installations.”

Under the title of “Historicity” which is defined as historical authenticity, the title portrays the collection in a way that isn’t a far stretch from what Michelson wants to portray through his works.

Some of his pieces expand by utilizing moments in history and showing the contrast and differences between the perceived explanation and the authentic explanation, to combining different technologies to create contrast and discussion around a certain moment in time or a fixture of culture of the land. His work also provides a vocalization for the sides of history that are usually swept under the rug — the voice of the indigenous people.

But his intentions for those that view his collection are a bit simpler.

“‘Historicity’ is sort of the factuality of history, as opposed to the history that’s mythologized. So, a large majority of my work uses a form of documentary, but not through normal narrative progression,” he said. “It’s really hard to know what people will take away, so I just put it out there and people can take away whatever they want. But I think art has a way of presenting these subjects that’s different than history books and different than the way that they are normally presented — if they are presented at all.”

The exhibit features the Six Nations Premiere of TwoRow II.

“[TwoRow II] captures the fact that the Grand has been a fence or a boundary between our reserve and the non-Onkwehon:we townships that are on the other side,” he said. “I used the concept of the Two Row Wampum, which I love and think is profound, and I’m sort of taking from the Euro culture with this panoramic vision and I’m taking stuff from ours and mixing it to make this work. You can see that it takes a lot in from both sides of the river.”

But the exhibit also features the Canadian premiere of RoundDance, which has only been seen in Denver and Moscow. Utilizing twelve screens, the work is a beautiful and digital concept that Michelson is proud of.

“This idea came from Idle No More using round dances,” he said. “I had this idea to do one so I staged one in a show at Ryerson University. The Northern Cree singers are singing ‘Smile,’ in the audio and over laid on top of that is a chiefs speech from one of the Idle no More rallies.”

As the exhibit is now open for viewing and without giving too much away, the exhibit will be open to view at the WCC until December 21.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *