Reading the Talk

September 20th, 2014 – January 4th, 2015

Reading the Talk presents contemporary artists Michael Belmore, Hannah Claus, Patricia Deadman, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Keesic Douglas and Melissa General engaging through art in critical conversations about relationship to lands, region and territory, while considering distinct indigenous perspectives on the history of treaties in this land now referred to as Canada.

After learning about the Dish with One Spoon Treaty and wampum from artist Bonnie Devine and Elder Jan Longboat, the curators, Rachelle Dickenson and Lisa Myers invited artists who address land, trade, treaty and wampum in their work to consider this specific dish treaty.

As the Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee Nations negotiated the Dish with One Spoon Treaty to share hunting grounds in regions south and north of the Great Lakes in the 17th through to the 19th century, historian and activist Leanne Simpson describes this diplomacy as a way for two nations to share territory and at the same time maintain independence. Wampum belt, a belt-like object weaved together with two kinds of beads made from Quahog and Whelk shells, is symbolic in bead count, colour and design. Wampum functions as a mnemonic device for leaders to ‘read the talk’ of agreements that are established and renewed between nations. Drawing from this rich history, Reading the Talk elucidates the continuing role of the wampum for Indigenous peoples and takes into consideration the Dish with One Spoon Treaty.

Through a deep engagement of materials, technique and narrative, the installation, sculpture, video and photography in this exhibition contribute to a conversation about the different relationships to land and the ways that land is valued.

Chi Miigwech, Nya:weh and Thank You to the knowledge and guidance shared by Tuscarora artist, writer, curator Rick Hill, Anishinaabe Ojibwa artist, curator, writer and educator Bonnie Devine and Anishinaabe Ojibwe historian, writer, educator Alan Corbiere.

Read the catalogue!