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Announcement
September 18, 2013

Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art.

Ryerson Image Centre at Ryerson University
Michael L. Abramson, Untitled (American Indian Movement: Lakota Indians), Wounded Knee, South Dakota, USA, 1973. Gelatin silver print. Reproduction from the Black Star Collection at Ryerson University. Courtesy of the Ryerson Image Centre. BS.2005.285357 / 187-546.

The Ryerson Image Centre (RIC) celebrates its first anniversary tonight from 6 to 8pm with an opening reception for Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art. Guest-curated by Steve Loft, Ghost Dance presents photographs from the Black Star Collection with contemporary works by aboriginal artists to examine the role of the artist as activist, as chronicler and as provocateur in the ongoing struggle for indigenous rights and self-empowerment. Also opening this evening is Moving Frames, Shifting Boundaries: Artistic Experiments and Innovation in Film and Video, which features a selection of experimental film and video works produced by students of the School of Image Arts.

Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art. is a multimedia group exhibition, which features artists Sonny Assu, Vernon Ah Kee, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Dana Claxton, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Alan Michelson, Theo Sims, Skawennati, and Jackson 2bears and will be on view until December 15. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Trudeau Foundation, Ryerson University, the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Toronto Arts Council and The Paul J. Ruhnke Memorial Fund.

One of the key events used as a conceptual starting point to examine indigenous activism in Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art. is the vision of a young Paiute man. On January 1, 1889, Jack Wilson (or Wovoka), a young Paiute man, had a vision during an eclipse of the sun. […] Revealed to Wilson was a place where his ancestors were once again engaged in their favourite pastimes, where wild game and abundant food were restored to the lands. […] He interpreted the vision as the coming of a new age, one where Native and non-Native people would (finally) live in peace. This was the birth of the Ghost Dance.

As guest curator Steve Loft explains, “For centuries, colonialism has been the cause of suffering, oppression and violence perpetuated against indigenous people in Canada and many other countries. […] By concentrating on events, we humanize the process, allowing a more nuanced and human response. We can see it was people who committed atrocities against others, not the ideology behind it. And we can see the presence of real people who stand up and resist it.”

Steve Loft is Scholar-in-Residence at the Ryerson Image Centre and a National Visiting Trudeau Fellow at Ryerson University. He is a curator, theorist, writer, and media artist. Loft came to Ryerson University after completing a two-year residency as the first aboriginal curator‐in‐residence at the National Gallery of Canada. Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art. is the culminating exhibition of his Trudeau Fellowship at Ryerson University.

Moving Frames, Shifting Boundaries: Artistic Experiments and Innovation in Film and Video presents a selection of experimental film and video works produced by students of the School of Image Arts, Ryerson University, under the mentorship of professors and co-curators Gerda Cammaer and Pierre Tremblay. Showcasing a new series of innovative and imaginative single-channel works produced over the past two years, this exhibition presents the talent of future media artists, functioning as a “salon des promesses.” Moving Frames, Shifting Boundaries will be on view in the student gallery until October 27.

These exhibitions have been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

[1] Candice Hopkins, “Can Beauty Be A Call to Action,” in Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years, ed. Sherry Farrell Racette (Plug In Editions: Winnipeg, 2011), 65.

Media Contacts:
Erin Warner
Ryerson Image Centre
T +416 979 5000 x7032
[email protected]

Antoine Bourges
Ryerson Image Centre
T +416 979 5000 x7032
[email protected]

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