For several weeks, Oxygen Art Centre has hosted an exhibition, “Body and Water,” curated by Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective.
This group exhibition features the work of artists Paxsi, Jaime Black, Hannah Claus, and Lindsay Dobbin. The show kick-off was on September 3, and it will run until October 2.
The exhibition contemplates connections of waterways through video, performance, photography, and textile installations.
“Body and Water” is the result of a year-long curatorial research project. Thematically, it explores the waterways, considering colonial, physical, and embodied borders.
Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective, based in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton), Alberta, supports and presents Indigenous artists through collaborative contemporary art projects and an artist-run Indigenous arts centre. Ociciwan engages in current critical dialogue, valuing artistic collaboration and fostering awareness of Indigenous modern art practices.
Julia Prudhomme, Executive Director of Oxygen Art Centre, feels fortunate to have this exhibition come to Oxygen and Nelson. And the timing of the presentation is rather salient.
“We worked on the exhibition during the smoke and wildfires,” says Prudhomme.
"How prescient that was and heartbreaking and complicated all at the same time. I hope that folks that go to visit the exhibition can find a connection that way or have some conversation spawning from the work about decolonization and IndigeneityAnishinaabe-Finish artist Black slips and shifts between elemental water waves in three photographs, as well as a poem that connects waterways with the cosmos."
“Black’s work speaks to missing and murdered Indigenous women,” says Prudhomme.
Transitory Fish by Hannah Claus, 2021.
Black’s practice engages in themes of memory, identity, place, and resistance and is grounded in understanding the body and the land as sources of cultural and spiritual knowledge.
Kanien’kehá:ka-Acadian-Irish artist Dobbin’s video “Transitory Fish” (2021) features a performance in the Bay of Fundy, Wabanaki Territory, that honours “our aquatic origins by following the continuity of body and water.”
As a person with intersecting identities, personal and ancestral displacement and trauma, their practice honours direct experience as a way of coming to (un)know while listening for the shared beingness, health and resilience in meeting waters.
Kanienkehá:ka-English artist Claus presents a looped video entitled “all this was once covered in water” (2017) transfixed by the movements and transformations of water. A 2019 Eiteljorg fellow and 2020 Prix Giverny recipient, Claus’ installations have exhibited across Canada, including at the National Gallery of Canada.
The exhibition features an installation by queer, disabled Aymara and Welsh-Irish multidisciplinary artist Paxsi that shares memories through story fragments, denim, and chain. Their work is particularly engaging to people who come to the exhibit.
“Paxsi is an emerging artist who is fantastic. Their work is beautiful. They created this beautiful beaded two-dimensional textile piece on jean. It’s lovely, beautiful and quiet,” says Prudhomme.
"Each artist provided a story or poem that talks about their work poetically or narratively. I hope folks who experience the exhibition can spend time with the texts because, especially for Paxsi, you see the artwork differently after reading the story, this very intimate story about skipping rocks with their siblings."
Alongside their career as an emerging singer-songwriter, Paxsi creates energy-informed beadwork which embodies Indigiqueer celebration and resistance. In their narrative statement they say: “I want you to know that I miss skipping rocks together, and I miss you, too.”
“We have two videos in the middle of the space that are very abstract and transitory, but they’re immersive at the same time. It’s an interesting quality that occurs. It’s almost like you want to spend hours with the videos,” says Prudhomme.
On September 11, Oxygen hosted an online artist talk about the exhibition, artists, curators, and artworks. Admission is free or by donation.
Registration is required.
“I hope people come to see it. I recognize it’s a tough time going to indoor spaces, but I hope that works out. It’s pretty beautiful, and we’re so grateful to Ociciwan for doing this work,” says Prudhomme.
A published exhibition catalogue is coming in print and online formats. Exhibition support comes from Canada Council for the Arts and Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.
Oxygen Art Centre is an artist-run centre located at #3-320 Vernon Street, Nelson, BC, via the alleyway entrance.
"claus" [Hannah Claus, "all this was once covered in water," video still, 2017]