Visiting: Logan MacDonald A Response by Emily Critch
Thank you for sharing your work with me over the last couple of months. I notice many similarities in our thoughts, concerns, and questions about identity and authenticity. Our intentions reflect a genuine desire to learn and feel a sense of belonging.
I’m aware of that uneasy feeling when you are unsure whether or not you are allowed to participate. Feeling shame for not being or not knowing enough. Not knowing the language. Not knowing where to look for guidance. Not wishing to appropriate or cause pain in others. I feel guilty about getting to keep my Qalipu status card when tens of thousands of members had their status revoked and stolen from them. I am hurt that this has caused tensions, dividing families and communities across the province and beyond. I hurt for them and I feel like I should have had mine taken too.
There was a small forum about Indigenous identity held during Ursula Johnson’s exhibition Mi’kwite’tmn at the Grenfell Art Gallery in 2015. The people in attendance were going around the circle introducing themselves. I remember saying that I was Mi’kmaw, but I did not know the language or songs but I was there to listen and learn. I remember that was followed by somebody saying “We’re all learning too”. That is one of the most comforting things that anybody has ever said to me.
When I consider these thoughts in relation to your work, I think about our bodies. Our bodies allow us to intimately navigate the world; using all our senses and movement to experience our territory, surroundings and other people. Inside of our bodies hold the memories of the land, our ancestors, and lived experiences.
In the first exhibition of this body of work, The Lay of the Land, the absence of bodies was intentional. This was a tool of mediation allowing the viewer to have accessibility into the work without the voice of a specific author. The new presence of the body appearing in this exhibition acknowledges the incontrovertible relationship between colonialism and heteropatriarchy, and their impact on the policing of queer and Indigenous bodies. These photos taking up space echo the resilience of queer and Indigenous folks, and how their bodies resist these forces on stolen land every day. Thank you for generously sharing your vulnerability with me in navigating these conversations.
When trying to learn more of the Mi’kmaq language, I was told by my teachers that it is a language built on verbs; words connecting our bodies and actions in relation to the land. Trying to pronounce the “Q” sound from the inside of the back of my throat physically hurts my body. It emotionally hurts knowing that these words were spoken by our ancestors every day and it was taken from them. The word “wetapekksi” comes to mind, a word to be asked in a question as to where your ancestral roots are from. I think of how intimately the body and trees are entwined in Made Space, and immediately feel the connections between the play of language and your work. The idea of home as a place is fluid and sometimes complicated. In the act of visiting and returning to where our families come from, it helps us to learn more about our connections between our bodies and the land. Ourselves.
Wela’lin. | Thank you.
Welta’si na nemu’l app. | I’m glad to see you again.