Bonnie Devine | Circles and Lines: Michi Saagiig

Guest-curated by Raven DavisPresented by the Art Gallery of Mississauga

September 6 – December 21, 2018

Opening Reception and Artist Talk: Thursday, September 6, 6 – 9 PM

This project uses various media and mapping strategies to explore the complex colonial histories of the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, which include the cities of Mississauga and Toronto and the traditional territories of the Michi Saagiig (Mississauga) and the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations of the Grand River). 

A member of Serpent River First Nation, Genaabaajing, an Anishinaabe Ojibwa territory on the north shore of Lake Huron, Bonnie Devine’s work emerges from the storytelling and image-making traditions she witnessed as a child. Her art explores issues of land and environment, treaty and history. She is an artist, curator, writer, and educator. Though formally educated at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD U) and York University, her most enduring learning came from her grandparents, who were trappers on the Canadian Shield. Devine’s installation, video, and curatorial projects have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and film festivals across Canada and in the USA, South America, Russia, Europe, and China, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Berlin Film Festival, the National Museum of the American Indian, and Today Art Museum in Beijing.

All are welcome. Refreshments provided. The AGM is a barrier-free space with an all-gender washroom.


Curatorial Statement by Raven Davis

All of existence is comprised of circles, lines and patterns, replicating the curves, depths and peaks of the earth’s surface. As we navigate our daily commute within the limits of the bustling cityscape, we often forget that the beauty of the land and its resources have been documented, divided, parceled and seized. We’ve attached wealth and ownership to land that was spoken for hundreds and hundreds of years before even the first boat arrived on our shores. We’ve become accustomed to using tools such as mobile GPS and navigation systems, yet forget that the now lost beauty of cartography was also used as a tool in the colonization of Indigenous people.

To strengthen the perceptions of land dispossession, Indigenous sovereignty, treaties and the loss of the homelands of the Michi Saagiig, artist Bonnie Devine uses their land-based research, and cultural knowledge to rebalance historical narratives using visual representations, focusing on two basic geometric forms: the circle and the line.

Linear approaches to reason, measurement, and proprietary notions of land ownership are embedded in the boundary lines drawn on maps, laid out with precision and plotted to this day in the roads, cityscapes and territorial boundaries that form a grid over this region. The circle, on the other hand, is non-linear, inclusive, protective, and embracing; modelled not on an abstract notion of logical progression but on visual evidence such as, the bowl of the horizon, the circle of the sky, and the cycle of the seasons.

Focusing on the interest, aesthetics and contrast of interpretations represented by these two simple forms, Circles and Lines: Michi Saagiig visually narrates how these differing approaches resulted in massive land losses in the homelands of the Michi Saagiig.

Circles and Lines: Michi Saagiig aims to honour the relationships between the two original land occupiers and inhabitants; the Mississauga’s and the Haudenosaunee: both evicted, sovereign Nations with thousands of years of intellectual knowledge and unwavering protection, and relationship to the land.

Through the combination of a series of scrolls, maps, media, and braided reeds, Circles and Lines: Michi Saagiig aims to reconnect and ground us on the traditional territory and land we benefit from, live on, and call home.

 

ARTIST BIO
A member of Serpent River First Nation, Genaabaajing, an Anishinaabe Ojibwa territory on the north shore of Lake Huron, Bonnie Devine’s work emerges from the storytelling and image-making traditions she witnessed as a child. Her art explores issues of land and environment, treaty and history. She is an artist, curator, writer, and educator. Though formally educated at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD U) and York University, her most enduring learning came from her grandparents, who were trappers on the Canadian Shield. Devine’s installation, video, and curatorial projects have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and film festivals across Canada and in the USA, South America, Russia, Europe, and China, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Berlin Film Festival, the National Museum of the American Indian, and Today Art Museum in Beijing.
 

CURATOR BIO

Raven Davis is an Indigenous, multidisciplinary artist, curator, performer, human rights speaker and community educator from the Anishinaabek Nation in Manitoba. Davis was born and raised in Toronto and currently works and lives between Halifax and Toronto. A parent of three sons, Davis blends narratives of colonization, race, gender, sexuality, Two-Spirit identity and the Anishinaabemowin language and culture into a variety of contemporary art forms.

 

Banner image credit: Bonnie Devine, Titled/Untitled, ink and crayon on paper, 2018. Courtesy of the artist. Map courtesy of Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL).