NADIA MYRE: SCATTERED REMAINS – TOUT CE QUI RESTE. It features the Canadian premiere of Code Switching, a series Myre produced during an artist residency at the Darling Foundry, sponsored by the MMFA, in 2016-2017. The exhibition includes some twenty works – photographs and sculptures – created between 2000 and 2017. It is part of Woman. Artist. Indigenous., a season at the Museum, devoted to female Indigenous artists.
Nadia Myre is a member of the Algonquin First Nation of Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg. In her works, she revisits official history and the political and social struggles of Indigenous peoples. She judiciously juxtaposes her personal experience with that of others, creating highly symbolic works that spark contemplation and reflection. She takes a participatory approach and tackles topics of identity, language, desire and memory. The works in the exhibition attest to the encounter between Indigenous peoples and Europeans.
Code Switching features fragments of the first commercially produced European pipes from the dawn of the industrial age, which were used as currency with First Nations peoples. This series of large-scale photographs presents works created with these pipe fragments using Indigenous beadwork techniques. By re-appropriating historical traditions and tales, Myre seeks to spark reflection and build bridges between cultures.
Code Switching was produced as part of an artist residency at the Darling Foundry in 2016-2017, sponsored by the MMFA. Previous artists in residence include Julie Favreau (2016), Mathieu Beauséjour (2015), Nicolas Lachance (2013-2014) and Chih-Chien Wang (2012).
The installation Orison / Oraison is intended as a response to the artist’s heartrending stories in The Scar Project, from 2005 to 2013. This was a participatory project in which people were invited to embroider a depiction of a personal scar on a canvas, using threads and fibres. Comprising photographs, sculptures and sound elements, it explores the indelible nature of memory and the way events remain alive in our bodies. The installation transports visitors to a place of contemplation, encountering the memory of others, in a space intended as an ode to reconciliation. It consists of large digital prints showing unseen sides of the Indian Act, a wicker basket filled with bundles of foodstuffs covered with red fabric and a red fishing net that rises and falls to the rhythm of breathing.
The works in the series Meditation (Respite) take up the theme of traditional Indigenous beadwork in a series of large-scale digitally printed photographs mounted behind Plexiglas. The first works in this series explore references to pictorial art, whereas this series makes connections with cosmic elements. They suggest a gaze turned skyward, revealing starry heavens and galaxies.
The exhibition also features works from the series Indian Act, including two from the MMFA’s collection, six from the artist’s collection and ten from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. This key work reproduces pages from the Indian Act – dating from 1876 and amended in 1985 – which gave the Canadian government exclusive legislative authority over land reserved for Indigenous peoples, in addition to setting for certain rights and limitations for them. Reproduced on blank pages and mounted on black felt, the text on these pages is replaced in whole or in part by red and white beads, echoing an art form traditionally practiced by Indigenous women. In this work, the artist aims to erase the text of a Eurocentric, patriarchal and colonial document designed for the purpose of assimilation.
This important sculpture is on loan from the Canadian Museum of History. It consists of a series of wooden poles that suggest wishbones or snowshoes. This work is presented as a barrier that symbolizes the access to ancestral wisdom that was denied to Indigenous peoples, notably the family.
The exhibition’s curator is Geneviève Goyer-Ouimettte, Curator of Contemporary Quebec and Canadian Art and holder of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair, under the direction of Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator, MMFA.
NADIA MYRE. SCATTERED REMAINS – TOUT CE QUI RESTE is made possible through the generous support of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Quebec and Canadian Art from 1945 to Today, and the Museum’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 programme of contemporary art, and Air Canada.