DO WOLVES DREAM, AND IF SO, WHAT DO THEY DREAM OF? PUNGENT ANIMAL MUSK IN THE NOSTRILS, THE HEART BURSTING CHASE OF THE DEER, THE IRON TASTE OF BLOOD, A FULL BELLY IN A WILD ENVIRONMENT WITH ROOM TO ROAM?
In Indigenous cultures no hierarchy exists between animals and humans. Animals possess spirits similar to people and have their own knowledge to share. The sculptures and photographs in Le rêve aux loups are imbued with the same values and respect these ancestors held toward the land and each other, centred on the holistic view that everything is interconnected. The work challenges the viewer to re-imagine their surroundings and re-think how we interact and cohabit with our environment.
Let’s talk about the animals in the room. In a subversion of the narrative of land theft and politics, the animals have taken over the parlour. If the human has just left the room, the furnishings imply her refined presence of moments ago. The coyote is the trickster in Indigenous culture. Contemporary equivalents could be the hustler, the punk rocker or the squatter. As we continue to bulldoze the land, the numbers of coyote multiply and strengthen, becoming an increasingly common and aggressive presence. Who owns this land? Who is the intruder?
1 Mary Anne Barkhouse in conversation with Michelle LaVallee. Catalogue from the exhibition Settlement/Regency, Rodman Hall Art Centre (St. Catharines, Ontario: Rodman Hall Art Centre, 2014), 79.
2 Two works in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada are notable: Sovereign (2007) and Harvest (2009).
3 “Arcadia” is a Greek notion that refers to an idyllic pastoral life, in harmony with nature and untainted by civilization.
4 Barkhouse in conversation with the author, September 2016.
5 Barkhouse in conversation with LaVallee. Settlement/Regency, 82.
6 In the game, two teams of equal numbers grasp wrists tightly and face each other from no more than thirty feet apart. Swinging their arms and chanting the call – “Red Rover, Red Rover, let (player’s name) come over!” – one team chooses a person from the other side who then rushes at what they guess to be the weakest link of arms, attempting to break through. If they don’t succeed, that person must leave their team and join the other side. There are variations of the game around the world with different names. In China it is known as Forcing the City Gates.
Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in Vancouver, BC and belongs to the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation. An established artist and sculptor, she is a descendant of a long line of internationally recognized Northwest Coast artists that includes Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James. Galleries that have showcased her work include the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Peterborough Art Gallery, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, Gallery Stratford, and the Wave Hill Glyndor Gallery in New York City. Barkhouse is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art and her work can be found in public parks and on college and university campuses across Ontario, as well as the collections of prestigious institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Mendel Art Gallery, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Art Bank of the Canada Council for the Arts, UBC Museum of Anthropology, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Banff Centre for the Arts and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. In addition, her public art installations are featured at the City of Markham, Carleton University, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, University of Western Ontario, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Robert McLaughlin Gallery and the Millennium Walkway, Peterborough. Mary Anne Barkhouse lives and works in Minden, Ontario.
Jennifer Rudder is an independent curator who has been working in the arts in Toronto and Ontario for 25 years. She graduated from the Masters of Visual Studies: Curatorial Studies program at the University of Toronto in 2010. Inherent in all her curatorial work is a critical examination of the historical misapplication of rationalism as evidenced in scientific theories and technologies that result in harmful effects on nature and groups of people. Rudder has curated numerous exhibitions including Glam North: Doris McCarthy and her New Contemporaries, co-curated with Alexander Irving at the Doris McCarthy Gallery at the University of Toronto, Scarborough in 2014. Her curated solo survey exhibition of the works of Mary Anne Barkhouse developed at the Koffler Gallery will travel to the Esker Foundation in Calgary Alberta in fall 2017. Rudder is an Assistant Professor in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice Department at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Shannon Anderson
Digital publication to the exhibition Mary Anne Barkhouse: Le rêve aux loups
Presented by the Koffler Gallery | June 22 to August 20, 2017 | Guest Curator: Jennifer Rudder
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2017, in collaboration with the individual contributors. All rights reserved. ISBN 978-1-928175-11-7.