Let Them Speak! Comments from British Columbia, Canada
Exhibition and film
Tom Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw (sculpture)
Meghann O’Brien, Haida/Kwakwaka’wakw (weaving) Christie Lee Charles, Musqueam (rap music)
Diana Hellson, Siksika Nation (filmmaker)
With Canada set to be the guest country at Frankfurt Book Fair, the special exhibition ‘Let Them Speak! Commentaries from British Columbia, Canada’ was scheduled to take place from 7 to 21 October 2020 in the Weltkulturen Museum. Three First Nations artists would take part: the weaver Meghann O’Brien (Haida/Kwakwaka’wakw), carver Tom Hunt (Kwakwaka’wakw) and hip-hop artist Christie Lee Charles (Musqueam). The artists were invited to use their own works to comment on the museum’s historical collection from Canada.
After the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, Canada’s physical participation in the book fair was suddenly thrown into doubt, and those in charge started looking around for digital formats which could act as a substitute. Long story short: the curating team transformed the exhibition into a video project and the Canada Council for the Arts accepted the change. Soon afterwards the artists helped to find the filmmaker Diana Hellson (Siksika Nation).
With her crew from Rudegang Entertainment, filmmaker Diana Hellson will visit the three artists at specially selected locations on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver City. Thus, the film mixes views of a picturesque mountainous landscape with images from a workshop and a sound studio. The film emphasizes the artists' perspectives. They present their own art and comment on individual objects in the collection, which can be seen in the accompanying exhibition. In this way the film combines contemporary, indigenous perspectives on museums with the mainly historical collection of the Weltkulturen Museum.
This project has been developed as a cooperation between Markus Lindner (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main) and Mona Suhrbier (Weltkulturen Museum). It is part of the culture program related to Canada’s Guest of Honour presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020/2021 and is supported by Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Canada.