Opening Reception: May 29, 2015. To June 20, 2015.
Tribe Inc. is an artist-run centre working outside of the constraints of a fixed gallery location enabling collaborations with various institutions. Together Tribe Inc. and AKA artist-run, formerly ‘Aka Gallery,’ have maintained a longstanding partnership. In the celebration of Tribe’s 20th Anniversary, AKA artist-run will host an exhibition of new work by Dana Claxton. When looking at our history we realized that Claxton was the first solo exhibition that Tribe presented in 1997 and it was also her first solo exhibition as an artist. The installation presented in collaboration with ‘Aka Gallery’ has now become one of Claxton’s most influential works of her career. This work was titled Buffalo Bone China.
In Buffalo Bone China Claxton blends performance art, found objects and video to dissect the effects upon First Nations peoples due to policies from colonial Canadian and the United States regarding the state sanctioned extermination of the American bison. Bison were slaughtered and their bones crushed and exported to England to make bone china. In the performance Claxton smashes pieces of china and makes four bundles, placing the bundles in a sacred circle while a video of buffalo plays in the background. “Feeling the loss of the buffalo, the backbone of Plains spirituality and sustenance, the artist uses a rubber mallet to destroy plates and bowls. The breaking of the china refers to the use of buffalo bones in the making of bone china during the period of exploitation and decimation of the buffalo.”
Claxton’s new exhibition Dana Claxton; Revisited will feature a two channel installation that addresses the issue of land and the indigenous body specifically in the Plains region:
”I’m influenced by my own experience as a Lakota woman, as a Canadian, a mixed blood Canadian, and then my own relationship to the natural and supernatural world. So taking that whole bundle of experiences, it all goes in to the artwork, I think that’s where the multi-layering comes in because I’ve had a very multi-layered life. And it’s all those experiences that go in to the work.”
– Dana Claxton, 2007
About the artist
Born of Lakota Sioux descent, Dana Claxton investigates the ongoing impact of colonialism on Aboriginal cultures in North America, primarily through film, video and photography. Her practice considers Indigenous beauty, the socio-political and the spiritual, among other themes. Claxton is well known for her work The Mustang Suite of 2008, a series of staged photographic portraits of a stylish, contemporary Aboriginal family. In this series, each family member is portrayed with their own personalized form of “mustang,” whether it be a muscle car or a banana-seat bicycle. She has exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center and the Sundance Film Festival. Exhibitions include the 2010 Biennale of Sydney and “Beat Nation” at the Vancouver Art Gallery and other venues. Her work is in major collections including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and she has received numerous awards including the VIVA Award from the Doris and Jack Shadbolt Foundation and the Eiteljorg Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum. Dana Claxton is also an assistant professor in the visual arts faculty at the University of British Columbia. Her family reserve is Lakota First Nations – Wood Mountain.