Face the Nation
Post #1229 • September 15, 2008, 11:36 AM • 161 Comments
Edmonton, AB - Terrance Houle photographs himself in robe and feathered headdress going through his day as a modern suburban cubicle monkey. Dana Claxton photographs a man in native facepaint and pigtails next to a convertable Mustang. Is it 1993, when the purveyors of identity politics once roamed the prairies of art in mighty herds? No, it's Face the Nation, kicking it old school as it promises to "address issues of history, representation and identity" and "utilize strategies of imitation" and "critique the authority of history." Curatorial solemnity and fatuous objects couple with especially jarring dissonance here, as the curator wonders publicly whether she's too white to put this show together and Lori Blondeau presents herself on the satirized cover of a women's magazine as Cosmosquaw.
Consequently the exhibition doesn't inspire reflection on the depiction of Aboriginals, as they call them up here, but the limits of the trickster aesthetic to accomplish anything except entree into the contemporary museum. In fact, we skipped the art museum in Brandon, Manitoba because the exhibition on display was Mother's Mother's Mother, which similarly "addresses the generational relationships that occur among women within familial contexts, schools of theory, and the contemporary Canadian Aboriginal art scene" and featured Face artist Maria Hupfield. Those worried about Edmonton's provincialism need to turn their withering gaze from the vital modernist work being made here and cast it at this niche market for art-based political worries.`