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Foolmakers in the Setting Sun
Marianne NicolsonFebruary 8 to April 19, 2014
Ni’nułamgila le’e Banistida `Tłisala (Foolmakers in the Setting Sun)
(Kwak’wala with English Translation courtesy Gloria Nicolson and Beverly Lagis)
This work is composed of a glass wall made in the form of dan`tsikw (powerboards) that during Kwakwaka’wakw ceremonials are brought to rise up from beneath the ground as supernatural beings by the `tukwid dancer (usually a woman). The boards contain within them the images of a ghost on the central panel and two nułamgila (foolmakers) on each outside panel who are the children of the ghost. This image is a treasure of the Dzawada’enuxw (Kingcome Inlet) histories from which the artist descends.
A light is projected onto the glass casting the images of the dan`tsikw onto the floor as shadows. Over time these shadows grow longer across the floor until they meet the far wall and grow up it eventually meeting and covering an image of the Alberta Oilsands at dusk. The light projection imitates the motion of the setting sun and mimics the performance aspect of the ‘tukwid dancer. The reference to dusk is a metaphor for the sustainability of the planet given global warming and dwindling natural resources.
Conceptually the work addresses the notion of perspective and vision. From the traditional point of view of the Dzawada’enuxw (Kwakwaka’wakw) the modern economic approach of massive resource extraction over short periods of time to facilitate monetary profits at the expense of long term environmental viability is foolish and the risks undertaken to provide oil to other countries too extreme. In part this work is a reaction to the proposed pipeline that is being promoted by the Canadian Federal Government to run from the Alberta Oilsands across B.C. to the central coast. An oil spill would affect all coastal communities including the artist’s homelands of Kingcome Inlet.