Mooniyaang, the Anishinabemowin word for Montreal, is a project about the often difficult to access Indigenous histories of these territories. As artists, how do we make use of artistic sensibilities in order to unsettle dominant historical discourses? Their sounds and meanings coded with the relational principles of our own worldviews, how do Indigenous languages offer us a better understanding of land and deepen our connection to these territories? Emilie Monnet, Pohanna Pyne Feinberg, and Scott Benesiinaabandan are engaging in a critical reflection around these themes in Mooniyaang.
During a research phase in the fall of 2015 the artists travelled around the island of Montreal, following the shores of the St Lawrence river, to get a geographical sense of the territory. The artists also visited a series of public monuments in the city to gain an understanding of the colonial histories of these territories. During the creation phase in October 2015 the artists participated in a two week residency at Hexagram (Concordia University) where they started to create individual projects and conduct interviews with knowledge keepers.
The project is developed in partnership with OBORO.
The work I propose takes the form of a living, moving monument that is experienced while walking (rather than walking around a fixed inert object). This monument is a portrait of a historical moment – it reflects our current relationship with water. Presented in the format of an audio walk, it is also a point of departure for discussion and action. As with all public monuments, it is a pedagogical device with an agenda. In this case, I intend to amplify the voices of Water Walkers, the evocative energy of water, and the resonance of water songs.
Focusing on the Jacques Cartier monument in St Henri Park and drawing from a performance I did for VIVA! Performance Art Bienale, Head on Hand confronts the narratives surrounding public monuments using performative actions as counter-narrative gestures. This work addresses pedagogical devices embedded in historical public monuments — an aspect of the state’s institutional curriculum the functions through the insertion of specific curated memories into public consciousness. This title refers to the Royal Canadian Navy logo portraying a handshake between Jacques Cartier and Donnacona — a chief who saved the French by empowering them against scurvy but was then later captured.
For thousands of years, indigenous peoples have lived and continue to live in this territory now called Montreal. Resultant of colonization, many stories about the occupation of these territories have not been passed down and the histories of all Indigenous nations who resided in these territories are not being acknowledged. This sound installation aims at bringing some of these stories to acknowledge the vibrancy and rich legacy of this land.
With this project I want to make a new body of work that considers the importance of monuments and countermonuments, the differences and similarities between Western monumentmaking and Indigenous monumentmaking and what this means for artists and citizens of our respective communities. The work is also interested in the overt issues that present themselves in the histories they celebrate while investigating ways to provide a meaningful and impactful counter narrative.