Selected Writing /
My work explores the aesthetics of contemporary Indigenous identity— its various manifestations, simulations, hybridizations, (dis)appearances, and liminalities. It is a about the lived experience of ancestry conceived of through narratives of shapeshifting, virtuality, sacrifice, hauntings and possession.
My creative practice is multifaceted, encompassing the fields of Indigenous philosophy, digital media art and cultural studies. My research is comprised of several interrelated strands of theoretical speculation, philosophical inquiry and creative engagement.
In many ways my work is autobiographical—a meditation on my own Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) heritage and the spaces I occupy in the world as Onkwehonwe (an Indigenous person). At its core it is about exploring different modes of engagement with my own ancestral ‘territories’, while at the same time my work endeavors to ask larger questions about collective memory, community, and cultural inheritance.
In being representative of a journey… I see the interrelated strands of my work as being traversal… About surveying and mapping different intellectual and creative territories. My practice is about crossing interdisciplinary zones of theoretical inquiry that occur at the intersection and hybridization of Indigenous and Western philosophies, contemporary First Nations performance art and post-structuralist theory.
I think of my work as being comprised of ebbs and flows, movements, refrains, and cascades of articulation that interpenetrate and cross over into one another. My work is best thought of as a series of creative passageways—a multiplicity of thoughts and critical engagements in motion, translation and conversion.
It must be said that the traversals and crossings in my work are not necessarily about establishing a synthesis between differing ideologies, philosophies or cosmologies. My work is not intended to be dichotomous, but rather should be read as a remix-theory … as something that passes in-between different fields of critical inquiry. For while on the one hand my work seeks to explore different zones of intellectual and creative proximity, it is also a work that emerges from within a multitude of contradictions and myriad incommensurabilities.
| Jackson 2bears, April 2019
Selected Publications /
For this Land: Inside Elemental
Authors: Jackson 2bears and Janet Rogers
For This Land provides an overview of the philosophy, concepts, practice, and inspiration adopted by one Indigenous media team. The 2Ro Media team has discovered, through their creative voice, a means to carry themselves back to their community from where they were not raised, where they felt a part of, and where they long to return. The article speaks of ways the team is asking permission to return by placing themselves on the land of their territories and engaging in new conversations with the land through interactive embodied storytelling. The narratives produced are both personal and universal. The artists recount, with brave openness, the vulnerability of their experience. The article presents an opportunity for the reader to place themselves inside their story to explore relatable narratives in their own lives. Through the story offerings embedded in the article, there exists potential for common experience to be explored thus creating spaces of compassionate and deeper relationships with each other.
Canadian Theatre Review (the Journal). University of Toronto Press, 2017. Natalie Alverez ed.
For this Land: Chiefswood
Editors: Heather Igloliorte, Julie Nagam, Carla Taunton
Authors: Jackson 2bears and Janet Rogers
INDIGENOUS ART: NEW MEDIA AND THE DIGITAL convenes leading scholars, curators, and artists from the Indigenous territories in Canada, the United States of America, Australia, and Aotearoa (New Zealand). It brings forth urgent conversations about resistance to colonial modernism, and highlights the historic and ongoing use of technology by Indigenous communities and artists as vehicles of resilience and cultural continuity. This issue ignites productive dialogue around the definitions of new and digital media art and practice-based work within the framework of Indigenous art and theory. While showcasing Indigenous artists’ work, it also probes the significant ways that this work contributes to—yet also intervenes on—the fields of art history, visual, cultural and media studies. PUBLIC 54 contributors investigate contemporary Indigenous digital and new media art’s relationships with sovereignty, self-determination, and nationhood. Altogether, the diverse articles, artworks, and dialogues illustrate the ways that Indigenous new media art can dynamically activate and embody Indigenous epistemologies, cosmologies, and methodologies.
Public54: Indigenous Art, New Media and the Digital, Winter 2016. Carla Taunton, Julie Nagam and Heather Igloliotere Eds. ISSN: 0845-4450 (http://www.publicjournal.ca/54-indigenous-art/ )
A Conversation with Spirits Inside the Simulation of a Coast Salish Longhouse
This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to the question of technology by examining points of convergence between Jungian psychoanalysis and Indigenous philosophy. The theoretical trajectory of the text considers traditional Haudenosaunee cosmologies as a way of re-thinking contemporary questions about our digital present and future, in turn proposing possible means of engagement and resistance. Central to the text is a critical analysis of select writings on the topic of dreams and the unconscious by Carl Jung, while at the same time reflecting on traditional Indigenous teachings extracted from the Haudenosaunee theory of dreams. The end goal of the text is the development of an “Indigenous theory of technology” that is faithful to traditional teachings, while addressing the uncanny essence of digitality in contemporary times.
“Critical Digital Studies: A Reader, Second Edition.” Arthur and Marilouise Kroker eds. (University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Devision, 2013).
My Post-Indian Technological Autobiography
This collection of essays provides a historical and contemporary context for Indigenous new media arts practice in Canada. The writers are established artists, scholars, and curators who cover thematic concepts and underlying approaches to new media from a distinctly Indigenous perspective. Through discourse and narrative analysis, the writers discuss a number of topics ranging from how Indigenous worldviews inform unique approaches to new media arts practice to their own work and specific contemporary works. Contributors include: Archer Pechawis, Jackson 2Bears, Jason Edward Lewis, Steven Foster, Candice Hopkins, and Cheryl L'Hirondelle.
University of Calgary Press
978-1-55238-742-9 (Institutional PDF)
About the Editors:
Steven Loft was recently the National Visiting Trudeau Fellow at Ryerson University. Previously, he was the Curator-in-Residence of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada and Director/Curator of the Urban Shaman Gallery in Winnipeg.
Kerry Swanson has worked in the Indigenous media arts sector for over a decade. She is the former Executive Director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. She currently works for the Toronto Arts Council.
Live Audio + Video Art and First Nations Culture
This essay focuses on a selection of First Nations artists that have envisioned their own unique style within the sphere of ‘Live Cinema’ performance, and other associated genres such as ‘Vjing’ and ‘Scratch Video’ – relatively new forms of artistic practice that here I conceptualize as being modernized versions of our ancient traditions of storytelling. Following a ‘remix’ logic, this essay means to explore some aspects particular to the art of live audiovisual performance, and the ‘rhythmic’ aesthetic at the heart of Live Cinema that has attracted a number of artists from my generation to make work in these fields, and develop their own strategies for creative expression that remain faithful to our traditions as Onkwehonwe (Indigenous peoples).
Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA). Lanfranco Aceti, Steve Gibson and Stefan Muller Arisona vol eds. Ozden Sahin ed. (LEA, Vol 19:3, ISBN: 978-1-906897-22-2)
Mythologies of an [Un]Dead Indian
Mythologies of an [un]dead Indian is the title of my Doctoral dissertation, a 300 page manuscript that is currently being prepared for submission for publication. Doctoral study was undertaken by Special Arrangement with the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria, and was comprised of academic research in the fields of Indigenous Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Computer Music, and Digital Media/Performance Art.
The central focus of this project is the conceptual transformation and reconfiguration of Indigenous identity in a contemporary context, something in the text that is enframed by a creative examination of select artworks by contemporary First Nations artists. The writing brings together post-structuralist theory and traditional First Nations teachings as a means to explore the thematics of heritage, ancestry, shape-shifting, technology, possession and haunting. The methodological approach to the writing is that of a critical autobiography that also draws together theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Vine Deloria jr., Carl Jung, Taiaiake Alfred, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.
Each chapter features critical reflections on specific First Nations artists such as James Luna, Lori Blondeau, Kent Monkman, Terrence Houle, Dana Claxton, Rebecca Belmore and Skeena Reece (among many others) as a means to contextualize the different hybrid theoretical positions that are posited. For instance, one of the central themes in the text is a rethinking of the question of First Nations heritage and ancestry through the Derridian notion of hauntology, which is here recontextualized through Indigenous mythologies such as the Trickster and legends of Shapeshifters, specters, sacred spirits and what I have termed an Indigenous Theory of Technology.
Chapter titles include:
1) Specters of an [Un]dead Indian; 2) The Death of the Indian Act; 3) Post-Indian Mythologies of Shadow Survivance; 4) Hyper-Phantomality and Simulated Survivance; 5) Shapeshifter Stories in Translation; 6) A Conversation with Spirits Inside the Simulation of a Coast Salish Longhouse; 7) Native Hip-Hop: The Eternal Refrain of the Breakbeat, Becomings-Machine, Becomings-Animal and Possessed Vocality.