Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan

A Glimpse into the Other World

From October 3, 2017 to February 4, 2018

This presentation is part of the Artist. Woman. Indigenous. cycle at the Museum, devoted to female Indigenous artists, with exhibitions or acquisitions of their works.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) and the National Film Board (NFB) present Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan – A Glimpse Into the Other World, an immersive installation by Atikamekw artists Eruoma Awashish and Meky Ottawa, and Innu artist Jani Bellefleur-Kaltush. For the MMFA presentation, the trio created a complete version of a prototype developed in 2016 in the creative lab DÉRANGER, an NFB project in collaboration with Montreal’s OBORO media artists’ centre and Wapikoni.

Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan is an immersive installation in which various elements evocative of the sacred appear. It provides a means for “a glimpse into the other world”— transposing the Innu and Atikamekw idea behind the words kushapetshekan and kosapitcikan, kept secret by those First Nations peoples—without, nonetheless, entirely revealing it, through an approach that the artists have rooted in decolonization. The accompanying soundtrack also suggests another space and time. A cylinder-shaped device is used as a surface for projection in order to heighten the intimate nature of the experience and invite visitors to pause for a moment.

“In 2016, the Museum was invited to a preview of three prototypes at DÉRANGER, a creative lab organized by the NFB. The multimedia project created by Awashish, Ottawa and Bellefleur-Kaltush already offered a unique experience, and the combination of sound and visual effects hinted at the possibility of an immersive, spiritual experience. Following this initial contact, the Museum’s teams worked with the NFB’s artists and craftspeople to develop this prototype into an impressive full-scale work. Through this project, the Museum sought to support innovation and artistic creation in Indigenous communities,” explained Geneviève Goyer-Ouimette, Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art, MMFA.

The installation can be experienced in a small group or individually, and visitors can choose to “inhabit” the work by entering it or by observing it from a more distant position outside. Through the work, the artists share an element of their culture in their own way, while leaving a way open for interpretation.

The installation Kushapetshekan / Kosapitcikan – A Glimpse into the Other World was made possible with generous support from the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator of Quebec and Canadian Contemporary Art, from 1945 to Today and the MMFA’S Women of Influence Circle, whose mission is to highlight and increase the presence of female artists at the Museum. The exhibition also received generous support from the Museum’s Young Philanthropists’ Circle, which is proud to support the MMFA’s contemporary art programme, and from Air Canada.