This multi-project Series (2015-2018) is a collaboration with Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) poet and spoken word artist Janet Rogers*. Over the past year and a half Janet and I have spent time in our home territory of Six Nations researching and exploring different heritage sites and important ‘spirit’ locations. At the heart of the project is the on-going investigation of, and creative engagement with, the stories on the land. Throughout we have documented elements of our interactions with these sites—our actions, experiences, and conversations—and for the past three years have been exhibiting our imaginative and aesthetic interpretations of the dialogues we have had with ‘place’, while we write our own stories on the land.
For this Land is inspired by the writings of Sioux philosopher Vine Deloria jr.—in particular, his 1998 book from which the title of this project is borrowed, and God is Red: a Native View of Religion (1972). What we have always found compelling about each of these texts is Deloria’s argument about the reason for a dramatic incommensurability between Western theology and ‘tribal’ spirituality that entails the first being rooted in a temporal logic, and latter in what he describes as a spatial philosophy. Whereas the former, he says, is based in time (emphasizing notions of ‘progress’ and linear/chronological history), Indigenous worldviews are spatial because they privilege a spiritual relationship to ‘place’ and, therefore, tribal spiritual sensibilities emerge from attention given to the landscape and geographical orientation—as the elders always say, we write our stories, our histories on the Land.
We are interested in the spatiality of storytelling—how stories can be dimensional as well as durational; how narratives are intricately interconnected with ‘place’, the landscape, and the environment. As Onkwehonwe (Indigenous people) we understand the landscape as a living, animate, and embodied archive. With this project, we interested in exploring the idea of embodied storytelling, and the ways in which we can participate with, and be immersed in story—sometimes through song, dance, or simply by traversing and crossing territorial narratives. This project is about performative storytelling, and our relationship to the living archive of the ‘places’ we occupy as Onkwehonwe.
For this Land: Inside Elemental
For this Land: Inside Elemental (1min 33sec). 2Ro Media: Jackson 2bears and Janet Rogers. Three-channel video installation and performance. Documentation from On-Site Gallery; Toronto ON. 2017
For this Land: Mush Hole
For this Land: Mush Hole (1min 29sec). 2Ro Media: Jackson 2bears and Janet Rogers. Four-channel video installation and performance, which was part of the “Save the Evidence Campaign”. Documentation from Mohawk Institute Residential School; Woodland Cultural Centre; Brantford ON.
For this Land: Chiefswood
For this Land: Chiefswood (1min 29sec). Jackson 2bears and Janet Rogers. 3-Channel Video Installation Documentation from the Audain Gallery, Victoria BC.
Janet Rogers is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in Ontario. She was born in Vancouver and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people in Victoria, British Columbia, since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, spoken-word performance poetry, video poetry, recorded poetry with music, and script writing. From 2012 to 2014, Janet was Poet Laureate of the city of Victoria.