Indians in Space: Curating Media Art by Indigenous Artists

Steven Loft, Aboriginal Curator-in-Residence, National Gallery of Canada; Former Director, Urban Shaman Gallery

IARC Speaker Series, SAR Boardroom

Thursday, October 29, 2009, 5:30–6:30 pm

Steven Loft at the IARC Speaker SeriesSteven Loft at the IARC Speaker SeriesSteven Loft at the IARC Speaker Series

The development of an artistic discipline based on electronic technologies is an articulation of creative and cultural space foregoing the territorialized domains of cultural and artistic canons. We get beyond the notion of simple mediation and enter the realm of translation, exploring how media refashions the logic of communication strategies to encompass a broader understanding of contemporary cultural phenomena. As curator Catherine Mattes has noted, “translation can loosely be defined as the act of expressing the sense of one language into another parlance or form of representation. When applied to visual languages, translation can transcend the boundaries of specific movements and discourses and does not bind artists by locating them in (or up against) a particular realm.” I interpret this to define a certain absolute and contiguous relationship to the technology available, and to its ability to transform our perception, existing as shape shifter, neither inherently benign nor malevolent, but always acting and active, changing, transformative, giving effect to and affecting the world. The term “language of intercession,” coined by Victor Masayesva, refers to this idea. In his essay “Indigenous Experimentalism,” Masayesva writes, “the Indigenous aesthetic, like each tribal language, is not a profane practice, a basic human protocol, or merely a polite form of etiquette and transaction, but rather, it is the way in which we are heard and commune with the Ancients.”

Listen to Steven Loft’s Presentation on “Indians in Space”
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Works Cited:
All Nations from Stryker Soundtrack - Hellnback
Ten Little Indians (Remix) - Jackson 2Bears
Plain Truth - Jason Baerg
Wêpinâsowina - Cheryl L’Hirondelle
What They Speak When They Speak To Me - Jason Lewis
TimeTraveller™ - Skawennati Tricia Fragnito

Other Links:
Four Directions Teachings

Steven Loft is a Mohawk of the Six Nations. He is a curator, writer, and media artist. In 2008, he became the first Curator-In-Residence, Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada. He was formerly the Director/Curator of the Urban Shaman Gallery (Winnipeg), Aboriginal Curator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Artistic Director of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association. He has written extensively on Indigenous art and aesthetics for various magazines, catalogues, and arts publications. Loft co-edited Transference, Technology, Tradition: Aboriginal Media and New Media Art, published by the Banff Centre Press in 2005. His video works, which include A History in Two Parts, 2510037901, TAX THIS! and Out of the Darkness have been screened at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally.

He promises to be as pompous and self important in person as this bio makes him out to be.

Reading List

Hopkins, Candice.  “Interventions in Digital Territories.” Transference, Tradition, Technology: Native New Media: Exploring Visual and Digital Culture.  Dana Claxton and Steven Loft, eds.  Alberta, Canada: Banff Centre Press, 2006.

Loft, Steven. “Aboriginal Media Art and the Postmodern Conundrum: A Coyote Perspective.”  Transference, Tradition, Technology: Native New Media: Exploring Visual and Digital Culture.  Dana Claxton and Steven Loft, eds.  Alberta, Canada: Banff Centre Press, 2006.

Todd, Loretta. “Aboriginal Voices in Cyberspace.” Transference, Tradition, Technology: Native New Media: Exploring Visual and Digital Culture. Dana Claxton and Steven Loft, eds.  Alberta, Canada: Banff Centre Press, 2006.

Sponsored by Anne Ray Charitable Trust

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