Culture Shock – Video works by Canadian Aboriginal artists

by NationTalk on September 24, 20091032 Views

Curator: Steven Loft

Saturday September 26, 2009 at 7pm
Club SAW
67 Nicholas Street
Free admission
Doors open at 6:30pm


Canadian Aboriginal video artists respond to West and East German films

To kick off the fall season at SAW Video, we are pleased to announce the upcoming screening of Culture Shock, a program of video works curated by Steven Loft which features works by Canadian aboriginal video artists Bonnie Devine (Ojibway), Keesic Douglas (Ojibway), Darryl Nepinak (Saulteaux) and local artist Bear Witness (Cayuga). The program was commissioned by the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in partnership with the Goethe-Institut Toronto and V tape. Artist Bear Witness and curator Steven Loft will be present at the screening.The video artists were selected to respond to two films from West and East German film collections, provided by the Goethe-Institut Toronto. The films represented classic German cinematic interpretations of indigenous North Americans from the 1960s, such as the infamous Winnetou films based on Karl May’s novels popular in West German cinema and the so-called “Red Westerns” created by East Germany’s legendary DEFA studios.

Following the SAW Video presentation, Steven Loft will engage in a performative response arising from the German screening of Culture Shock. He will reflect on his experience of the German-Aboriginal [dis]connections and the intersection of contemporary art with historical satire.

Prior to this presentation, join the Taking Steps Gathering of Artists for a discussion led by the Indigenous Culture and Media Innovations, an organization promoting Indigenous art and artists. Lend your voice to developing a new path for artists of the Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis communities. Come out and participate in the development of a stronger artistic community. Club SAW 2:30-5:30, September 26.


Winnetou und das Halbblut Apanatschi (Winnetou and the Half-Blood Apanatschi) – Harald Philipp (Director); Karl May, Fred Denger (Writers) – Germany – (1966) 90 min. (7 min. excerpt)

The Story of Apanatschi and Her Redheaded Warrior – Bear Witness – Ottawa – (2008) 5.5 min.

War Pony – Keesic Douglas – Mnjikaning First Nation – (2008) 9 min.

Die Söhne der großen Bärin (The Sons of the Great Bear) – Josef Mach – East Germany – (1966) 92 min. (7 min. excerpt)

A Grim Fairy Tale – Bonnie Devine – Serpent River First Nation – (2008) 6 min.

Zwe Indianer Aus Winnipeg – Darryl Nepinak – Canada – (2008) 2.5 min.


Ottawa-based artist Bear Witness started making videos while in Junior High and has since experimented with glass blowing, deejaying, music production and writing. In 2006 Bear participated in SAW Video’s youth program and had his first public screenings of two new video works at the 2006 imagineNATIVE media festival, in the music video category and the short experimental category, where he also received an honourable mention award for emerging talent. Bear is also collaborating on several video and music projects with his father, visual artist and curator Jeff Thomas.

Keesic Douglas is an Ojibway artist from the Mnjikaning First Nation in central Ontario, Canada. He specializes in the mediums of photography and video. His work has been exhibited across Canada and the US. Keesic focuses on issues surround his Native heritage in his photo and video work. His videos Rezurrection and Slide have been programmed at imagineNATIVE Film Festival, with The Vanishing Trace winning Best Short Documentary at the 2007. He is currently pursuing his Master of Fine Arts in photography at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Bonnie Devine is a member of the Serpent River (Ojibway) First Nation in Northern Ontario and an artist, curator, writer and educator. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design and York University, her primary interests are sculpture and installation. However, during the past seven years she has been exploring the possibilities of sound, video and electronics within a narrative sculptural practice. Her video, Rooster Rock, co-produced and co-directed with Rebecca Garrett, won Best Experimental Video at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in 2002 and subsequently toured internationally. Recently, Devine exhibited Medicine River, a sculpture and sound installation at AxeNeo7 Gallery in Gatineau Quebec and Writing Home, an installation of sculptural works, photography, drawings and sound at Gallery Connexion, in Fredericton, New Brunswick. She currently teaches Aboriginal Visual Culture at the Ontario College of Art and Design and maintains an active art practice in Toronto, Canada.

Darryl Nepinak (Ojibwe) works at the Ndinawe Youth Resource centre in Winnipeg, MB. He curated INDIANPEG: Shorts from Winnipeg Aboriginal Filmmakers at the 2006 Gimli Film Festival. Nepinak is the co-founder of Indie ‘N Film/Video Collective and the treasurer of Urban Shaman Gallery. He directed My Indian Name through First Stories, a competitive documentary production program for Aboriginal filmmakers, coordinated by the NFB Prairie Centre. He lived in Gisborne, New Zealand for 10 months in 2004, where he directed a documentary about the 30-year history of Te Ora Hou Aotearoa, a Maori youth organization, and mentored Maori teens in video production. Nepinak learned video production through the NSI Aboriginal Youth Pilot Project and the Aboriginal Broadcasting Training Initiative of the Manitoba Indian Cultural Education Centre.

Steven Loft (Mohawk) is a curator, writer and media artist who studied at McMaster University and Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology. From 2002-2008, he was the Director of the Urban Shaman Gallery (Winnipeg), Canada’s largest Aboriginal artist run centre. Prior to this, Mr. Loft was First Nations Curator at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and Artistic Director of the Native Indian/Inuit Photographers’ Association. He has curated gallery exhibitions, programmed media arts festivals and written extensively on Aboriginal art. His video works have been screened at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally. He has written articles, essays and reviews on Aboriginal art and aesthetics for magazines, catalogues and arts publications. Recently, Mr. Loft co-edited Transference, Technology, Tradition: Aboriginal Media and New Media Art, published by the Banff Centre Press. Steven Loft is currently completing a two-year residency as the first Aboriginal curator-in-residence at the National Gallery of Canada.

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