In collaboration with curator Amin Alsaden, DARC has chosen to focus its special anniversary exhibition, Earth Trend, about our relationship with the land, and to pay poignant tribute to the Indigenous peoples of Canada, one artist at a time. Most creators have roots in the Global South and have experienced upheaval and displacement, either through their ancestors or at some point in their own lives. Of course, an aboriginal artist participates in Earth Trend but that’s not all – DARC has worked consistently with Indigenous artists for many years.
The key point, says Hegel, is that “artists tell us what they want to do. We never prescribe a narrative. This space does not symbolize – we give freedom and a platform to create, we give room to grow in dialogue with their forces, aided by our technological equipment. Our job here is to share resources, provide access, and move away from capitalist models of revenue generation. Now that we’re in the new space, we’re blessed with so many things artists can create with. Our 40th anniversary is a gift to our community to be inspired and create right here in Ottawa.
DARC is also working on creating a residency for Indigenous artists, hiring more Indigenous curators, and always looking for Indigenous artists, not just waiting for them to come. “It’s our way of providing reparation,” says Hegel.
I met with Hegel and Alsaden to discuss the literal and symbolic growth of organization. Formerly SAW Video, DARC occupied a seedy basement in the Arts Court building measuring just 1,200 square feet. Now, DARC has over 5,000 square feet of space spread across their state-of-the-art technology equipment storage available for rental. members, a professional recording studio, an editing room, an exhibition space and a multi-flex room where workshops are held. When the nearby Ottawa Art Gallery opened in 2019, DARC grew its audience from 300 to several thousand and is now working tirelessly on new initiatives.
About the artists participating in Earth Trend
Hiwa K (on view until April 29) was born in Kurdistan-North Iraq in 1975. His informal studies in his hometown of Sulaymaniyah focused on European literature and philosophy, drawn from available translated books in Arabic. Pre-image (blind as mother tongue) revisits parts of the artist’s long and arduous journey crossing Europe on foot from Iraqi Kurdistan to Germany. In this work, Hiwa K raises questions about how place specificity fades and a new relationship with the land emerges for those who need to flee their ancestral lands and seek refuge elsewhere.
Monira Al Qadiri (exhibited May 3-20) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and trained in Japan. In 2010, she obtained a doctorate. in Intermedia Art from the Tokyo University of the Arts, where her research focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East from poetry, music, art, and religious practices. Behind the sun recalls one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in recent history, when retreating Iraqi forces set fire to Kuwaiti oil fields during the Gulf War. In this work, Monira Al Qadiri raises questions about humanity’s detrimental impact on the earth, whether through extractive capitalism, organized violence and endless conflict over resources, or deliberate acts of sabotage. ecological.
Samari Chakma + Naeem Mohaiemen (on view from May 24 to June 10): Samari Chakma was born in Khagrachari, Bangladesh. After her MA in General History at Eden College, she obtained her law degree from the World University of Bangladesh and was certified as a lawyer in 2013. Naeem Mohaiemen makes films, installations and essays on utopia socialism, unstable borders and the disappearance of family units. Autobiography of the Drowned is an oral history of the Chakma Adivasi indigenous people of Bangladesh, produced as an online dialogue between Chakma, Sydney, Australia, and Mohaiemen, Dhaka. The work raises questions about how the modern borders of formerly colonized nations have recreated patterns of oppression that have ensnared indigenous and minority groups, resulting in dispossession, persecution, and displacement from ancestral lands.
Nguyễn Trinh Thi (on view June 14-30) is a Hanoi-based experimental filmmaker and moving image/media artist whose practice currently explores the power of sound and listening, as well as the multiple relationships between image, sound and space, with permanent interests. in memory, representation, landscape, indigenity and ecology. Letters from Panduranga is a portrait of Ninh Thuan (formerly known as Panduranga), the spiritual center of the indigenous Cham people, where the Vietnamese government plans to erect two nuclear power plants. In this book, Nguyễn Trinh Thi raises questions about the right to land that has been permanently inhabited by a community for hundreds of years, in the context of tight national control, with the state inscribing the land by its power, its built form and its extractive industries.
Joel Spring (on display July 5-22) is a Wiradjuri man raised between Redfern in Sydney’s inner city and Alice Springs in Australia’s central desert with a practice grounded in architecture and interdisciplinary research. The Island investigates the history of a piece of land that was recently erased from official maps after having existed for over a century. Joel Spring raises questions about the purported veracity of cartography and how maps often reflect the worldviews and biases of those privileged to create them.
Caroline Monnet (on view from July 26 to August 12) is a multidisciplinary artist from the Outaouais region of Quebec. His work has been presented around the world and is present in many collections, including those of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec. The black case tells the story of a young girl and her toddler cousin who go through a harrowing experience while quarantined in the infirmary of a boarding school for Native children. In this fictional depiction based on real events, Monnet and co-director Daniel Watchorn raise questions about ideological claims and the policies and systems designed by settler colonialism to assert its control over the land – attempting, through the forced assimilation, to erase the traditions and social ties that unite indigenous communities.