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Michael Patten

The Ups and Downs of European Trade


Michael Patten
Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1977


The Ups and Downs of European Trade




Beer bottles, glass seed beads


22.5 cm (h.), 7 cm (diam.) (each)


Purchase, Monique Parent Fund, inv. 2019.179.1-3


Quebec and Canadian Art

This work pertains to the positive and negative outcomes of trade arising from colonization – the Ups are beads and the Downs are alcohol. The beer bottle, a ready-made, mass-produced object, is an unexpected surface for the application of the beads traditionally associated with the First Nations. By covering bottles with beads, Mike Patten, who is of Cree, Sakimay First Nation and European descent, uses the Ups to obliterate the Downs, reclaiming his culture. The repetitive act of stringing beads and wrapping the strands around bottles is at once therapeutic, healing, and stimulating. In this way, Patten dismisses the stereotype of alcoholism associated with his people.

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