Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Montreal: The Work of Mike Patten

At the end of the McCord Museum's show called Wearing Our Identity, mentioned in yesterday's post, there were several works by a currently working indigenous artist named Mike Patten. The first one I saw was this:

Native Beating, 2011

I didn't notice the double meaning of the title until just now as I prepared this post. The accompanying text says,

By sewing the map of Canada into what reads as a blood spatter pattern with red and white glass seed beads around a baseball bat, Patten tensely draws attention to the historic, ongoing and residual colonial violence suffered by Indigenous people across Canada.
On the wall adjacent to Native Beating is this work:

The Ups and Downs of European Trade, 2012

Its accompanying text says:
This work reflects on the positive and negative outcomes of trade — and trade goods like beads and alcohol. In beading over empty bottles of beer, Patten deftly brings to mind both the continuing alcohol addiction crisis in Indigenous communities and the cultural practices that can help these communities heal.
The last of the three pieces was the most visually dominant:

Untitled, 2017 (note: this sculpture uses rooster feathers rather than eagle feathers)

The text reads:
Using a headdress as a symbol of Indigeneity and blanketing it with thick white paint, enough to form a puddle — like an oil spill — on the floor, Patten seemingly calls into question ideas of essentialism while offering a critique on how Indigenous values and territories have been co-opted into cultural and economic commodities.
The exhibition also included a photo of one more Patten sculpture that wasn't based on bead work or apparel. I'm glad it was there in 2D, even if it wasn't present in 3D:

Smoke Signals, 2014

Once more, the accompanying text:
Smoke Signals continues Patten’s exploration of creating visual puns with Indigenous stereotypes — in this case tobacco and teepees — to talk about the ongoing negative connotation Aboriginal people encounter in today’s society and the impediments faced when they try to develop durable and legitimate economies in their home communities.
There's not a ton of information online about Patten, but his artist c.v. can be found on his website, and there's an interview with him on YouTube.

No comments: