Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture
Under the preface of hip hop as activism and expression, Beat Nation speaks directly to the anger and negation of a history permanently altered and damaged by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act (a piece of statute that is still upheld today). The resulting works in the exhibition are about expression and knowing your rights, translating into mostly dense and poignant, some radically hilarious or scathingly satirical, and all acutely conscious works that speak to awareness.
The work by Nicolas Galanin, titled Tsu Heidei Shugaxtutaan, translates, as “We will again open this container of wisdom that has been left in our care,” and it has two parts. The first part , set to the thumping electronic music composed by Galanin, which stirs the performance of traditional Tlingit dancer Dan Littlefield. Dressed in full regalia, Littlefield moves to the contemporary music in the old style of dance. In the second part, you hear the drumming and chanting of traditional Tlingit vocals and drums and dancer David “Elsewhere” Burnal is seen in an empty dance studio, breakdancing. This was the first work I saw, or more specifically the first work I felt. The work was aesthetically appealing and made me think of a cross between generations, especially in aboriginal culture elders and tradition is sacred and I fount this piece effetely portrayed that. This excerpt from one of Galanin’s artist statements in 2010 describes his aprrosh to art making and something I believe can be applied to the entire exhibition; “I work with concepts, the medium follows. In the business of this “Indian Art World” I have become impatient with the institutional prescription and its monolithic attempt to define culture as it unfolds. Native American Art cannot be commonly defined as our work moves freely through time. The viewer, collector, or curators’ definition will often convey more about themselves than that of the “Native Artist”. In the past I have struggled with this title, though I now embrace my position as a contemporary indigenous artist with belief that some forms of resistance often carry equal amounts of persistence. My current collection of work presents visual experiences in hope of inspiring creative dialogue with the viewer. I work with an intention to contribute towards contemporary cultural development. Through education and creative risk taking I hope to progress cultural awareness both in and out of this Indigenous world.”
Another piece I really enjoyed was the short film Heritage Mythologies by Jackson 2Bears is, for me, the piece that put the exhibition into perspective With incredibly powerful images,