The Ryerson Image Centre to showcase Indigenous artists at this year’s Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival

The Ryerson Image Centre.
The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) located at 
33 Gould Street 
in downtown Toronto.
Paul Roth.
Paul Roth.

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto will present work by three contemporary Indigenous artists: Shelley Niro, Nadia Myre and Scott Benesiinaabandan. Collectively, these artists explore notions of culture, identity and the complex colonial histories of Indigenous people using photography, film and new media. All exhibitions will be launched during the official kick-off party for the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, free and open to the public, on April 27, 2018, from 7 pm to 11 pm. “We’re pleased to partner with the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival to present these three excellent contemporary artists, all of whom work around themes of indigenous history, identity and tradition,” said Paul Roth, Director of the Ryerson Image Centre. “Artists are often able to address society’s most difficult and contentious issues in ways that resonate with a wide audience. Ryerson University is deeply committed to learning from the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and these exhibitions follow that same path.”

Shelley Niro.
Shelley Niro.

Shelley Niro: Scotiabank Photography Award Winner. Shelley Niro is known for challenging stereotypes and exploring notions of culture and identity with sensitivity and humour. A member of the Six Nations Reserve, Bay of Quinte Mohawk, Turtle Clan, Niro combines beadwork designs, archival images, family pictures, videos, and installations that question traditional representations of Indigenous peoples, with a particular focus on womanhood. This exhibition is presented by Scotiabank and organized by the Ryerson Image Centre in partnership with the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.

Nadia Myre.
Nadia Myre.

Nadia Myre: Acts That Fade Away. On view on the RIC’s Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall, Nadia Myre’s silent video Acts That Fade Away presents the artist’s hands and forearms filmed from above as she carefully manipulates the needles, threads, patterns, beads, and tools necessary to craft four Indigenous-inspired objects. These include a pair of baby moccasins, a small basket, a woman’s hair bonnet, and a bandolier bag – guided only by instructions pulled from 19th-century women’s magazines. Through the re-appropriation of instructions and gestures drawn from European and North American illustrated publications, Myre reclaims Indigenous skills and crafts which have been devalued by colonization.

Scott Benesiinaabandan
Scott Benesiinaabandan.

Scott Benesiinaabandan – newlandia: debaabaminaagwad. As part of Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival’s outdoor public installation program, artist Scott Benesiinaabandan (Obishikokaang Anishinaabe First Nation) explores the historical complexities that are often buried under the metaphorical weight of monuments that commemorate colonial stories. As part of Benesiinaabandan’s ongoing series newlandia: debaabaminaagwad, abstracted imagery in the form of a shadow-like silhouette will be adhered to the sidewalk adjacent to Ryerson University’s controversial statue of Egerton Ryerson. Other fragmented patterns will be conformed to the irregular surfaces of the boulders in nearby Devonian Pond, recalling Indigenous petroglyphs and ancient ceremonial sites.

On view from April 28 to August 5, 2018, these exhibitions are accompanied by free public programming, including artist and curator walk-throughs, talks and more. The Ryerson Image Centre is located at 
33 Gould Street
in downtown Toronto. Admission is free. For a full list of exhibitions and accompanying programs, please visit www.ryersonimagecentre.ca.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.