Curated by Annie Wong
September 21 - November 25, 2023
her name is a commissioned film by tīná gúyáńí (deer road), the parent/child artist-duo consisting of Glenna Cardinal and seth cardinal dodginghorse. The film explores a family story as it unfolds during Glenna’s studies at Blue Quills University near Edmonton, Alberta. In 1970, the Blue Quills Native Education Council took over operations of a former residential school and initiated the first Indigenous-owned and governed educational centre in Canada. Encountering a father and daughter’s experiences of Blue Quills at different periods of its history, her name presents “life as it is lived'' for a family navigating intergenerational colonial trauma through an Indigenous framework of healing.
her name is the culmination of tīná gúyáńí’s year-long residency at Gallery TPW, which was designed to consider the conditions necessary to support an artistic life as much as artistic production. The start of the residency coincided with the aftermath of seth and Glenna’s forced displacement from their matrilineal home by the construction of the South Calgary Ring Road. The grief and anger towards the ongoing colonial violence of the Canadian government, complicated by the lateral violence from within the Tsuut’ina community, generated a body of profound and critical artworks.
This period also saw a significant moment when Glenna began studying at Blue Quills University to pursue an Indigenous Masters of Social Work. During this time, seth and Glenna learned about a family history of attendance at Blue Quills during its period as a former residential school. The potential for a film project to provide a healing space to receive this new information became the focus of their residency.
Without shying away from sonic and cinematic experimentations, her name holds a story that uniquely belongs to seth and Glenna’s family, as much as it does to many Indigenous families. Part documentation, part music piece, and part love letter to a father, the narrative unfolds across emotional and physical landscapes in a sequence of vignettes. There is no attempt to romanticize a sense of resilience against the irreconcilable collective trauma of residential schools. Rather, her name speaks to the truth in dreams, the love of family, and care for stories.
The gallery spaces also consider care for the viewer. The screening room for her name is painted yellow, a colour often used in ceremony, with “grandpa-style” couches that offer familial and physical comfort. In the adjacent gallery, the artists have created a smudge room in a shade of a blue reminiscent of Saddle Lake. On a table, medicines have been gathered and visitors are invited to use them. Those who have knowledge about how to use Indigenous medicines and those who do not will respond to this invitation differently. For the latter who may be unfamiliar with the practice of smudging, the invitation is for one to engage in a deeper journey of truth and reconciliation that extends beyond this exhibition.
– Annie Wong
This project is made possible with the generous support of TD Bank Group.
Still from her name, courtesy of the artist. 2023
EVENTS and PROGRAMS
Thursday, September 21, 6pm-8pm
Opening reception and a conversation with the artists at 6:30pm.
Thursday, October 12, 12pm-2pm
Lunch and session with Anishnawbe Health Toronto. This program is a private event. The gallery will be closed during these hours.
tīná gúyáńí (deer road) is an artist collective from guts’ists’i / mohkinstsis (Calgary) consisting of parent/child duo Glenna Cardinal (Tsuut’ina/Saddle Lake Cree) and seth cardinal dodginghorse (Tsuut’ina/Amskapi Piikani/Saddle Lake Cree). In 2014, they were forcibly removed from their homes and ancestral land on the Tsuut’ina Nation, for construction of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road. Their multidisciplinary practice honors their connection to land and explores the effects of environmental /psychological damage. tīná gúyáńí’s work is deeply based in culture, language, oral history, family photographs, and museum/archival research. Their art is an act of cultural preservation and a protest against ongoing settler colonialism.
Documentation by Mike Fawcett