Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture describes a generation of artists who juxtapose urban culture with Aboriginal identity to create innovative and unexpected new works that reflect the realities of Aboriginal peoples today. Organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery and based on an initiative of grunt gallery, Vancouver, Beat Nation features painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video. During its Montréal run, the Musée dart contemporain
will hold a round table discussion on Thursday, December 5 as well as a special Nocturne on Friday, November 1, featuring madeskimo and Jackson 2bears. Beat Nation is co-curated by Kathleen Ritter, Associate Curator (former), Vancouver Art Gallery, and Tania Willard, a Secwepemc artist, designer and curator. The Montréal presentation was coordinated by Mark Lanctôt, Curator, Musée dart contemporain de Montréal.
Since the early 1990s, hip hop has been a driving force of activism for urban Aboriginal youth in communities across the continent. The roots of this music have been influential across disciplines and have been transformed to create dynamic forums for storytelling and indigenous languages, as well as new modes of political expression. In the visual arts, artists remix, mash up and weave together the old with the new, the rural with the urban, traditional and contemporary as a means to rediscover and reinterpret Aboriginal culture within the shifting terrain of the mainstream.
While this exhibition takes its starting point from hip hop, it branches out to include pop culture, graffiti, fashion and other elements of urban life. Artists create unique cultural hybrids that include graffiti murals with Haida figures, sculptures carved out of skateboard decks and live video remixes with Hollywood films, to name a few. Beat Nation brings together artists from across the continentfrom the West Coast as far north as Alaska, as far east as Labrador and south to New Mexicoand reveals the shared connections between those working in vastly different places.
As Aboriginal identity and culture continue to change, and as artists reinvent older traditions into new forms of expression, their commitment to politics, to storytelling, to Aboriginal languages, to the land and rights remains constant, whether stated with drum skins or turntables, natural pigments or spray paint, ceremonial dancing or break dancing.
Artists featured in the exhibition are: Jackson 2bears, KC Adams, Sonny Assu, Bear Witness, Jordan Bennett, Raymond Boisjoly, Corey Bulpitt & Aime Milot, Kevin Lee Burton, Raven Chacon, Dana Claxton, Dustinn Craig, Nicholas Galanin, Maria Hupfield, Mark Igloliorte, Cheryl LHirondelle, Duane Linklater, madeskimo, Dylan Miner, Kent Monkman, Marianne Nicolson, Skeena Reece, Hoka Skenandore and Rolande Souliere.
This exhibition is co-curated by Kathleen Ritter, Associate Curator (former), Vancouver Art Gallery, and Tania Willard, a Secwepemc artist, designer and curator