I have been in the process of reconnecting with a traditional Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] restorative aesthetic. Such a practice echoes the knowledge transferred by generations within my family whereby they recalled the health of the body and mind in a series of shared repetitive events, which were both restorative as well as reflective; they elevated the mind and facilitated the giving of thanks. These condolence ceremonies originated within the longhouse and were transferred organically within. In both these situations individual grief was born by all present and could be understood as an archive of shared experience. As the emotionally cumulative repetition of ceremonies, the ongoing photo and video series condolence has been presented as a period of time to be lived through, like an opening to unlimited discussion of emotional responses to an existential loss of language.
The sadness that is felt from the personal loss of the Mohawk language, and the networks defined by culture motivates the recent works to date. In place of this systemic deficit, I have also assembled an archive of images, documents, both familial and cultural. This restitution and the residual visual documents produced by it create and maintain strong connections with the land, nation, community, and family. Furthermore, this powerful new resource is an externalization of what is carried within the body, which in itself is a repository in dialogue with places real and imagined, traditional and contemporary. The condolence ritual is a systemic pattern occurring at the personal, familial, community, and confederate and alliance levels when relationships are altered by death. This pattern has formed my aesthetic, having used relationships as a principle of organization within my artistic practice.
The new video work 'metathisis' is the first of a series of liminal efforts and an archivable electronic record of a real time performances that attempts to define my present relationship to the concept of condolence The video work incorporates the body as a site/receptacle to explore the natural, and the metaphysical. Itís my desire to move toward a complete comprehension of definition of existing without language while using the 14 Mohawk phrases intuitively selected and edited from 3 of the 4 parts of the condolence ceremony known as the Mourning rituals; [On the Journey (along the road), Wiping Their Tears (the Requickening address, and At the edge of the Woods] as found within the source the Great Law of Peace, an oral narrative of a founding political event, outlining in detail the political philosophy, laws and rituals of a living constitution. I employ the Screen as intermedia for mnemonic transfers of oral attempts and physical efforts to infer determination and desparation with the absence of the Mohawk language and subsequent worldview. I use the codified wampum as a conceptual mnemonic, a reciprocal container. This transitional period in my practice demands an intensive comparative studies of worldview in relation to time, space and linguistic relativity and the real. The Mohawk language and worldview, holds a conceptual space for the real to exist and it is my intent to research this space via the reaction to trauma and the response of repetition.
Amber Berson essay, Greg Staats: Unspoken Loss
MODERN FUEL, Essay by Michael Davidge 2011
OBORO press release 2011
Kelowna Art Gallery auto-mnemonic six nations essay
KWAG, online catalogue
2008 Banff Centre Residency:Archive Restored
2009 Banff Centre Residency: Towards Language
andpva interview on process
open studio residency 2010