Thursday, October 19, 2006 to Saturday, November 18, 2006

    • Thursday, October 19, 2006
    In Bax’wana’tsi : the Container for Souls, Marianne Nicolson shares an affirmation of her Dzawada’enuxw traditional culture and language, as well as a reassertion of an old belief in the human balance between the body and the soul. Nicolson’s sources are iconic images from the Dzawada’enuxw culture, one of the many nations of the Kwakwaka'wakw peoples in British Columbia. Illuminating the gallery space, a light box casts shadows to suggest a place of reflection. The exhibition consists of only this light box, a glass ‘bentwood’ chest created in Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous style. The light from inside the box casts shadows of a raven, an owl and two young girls. The photographic images are of her aunt and mother as young women, both looking directly into the camera with hopeful expressions. The activation of the gallery space by the shadows on the wall creates a feeling of immersion and simple wonder. The effect of our presence on the shadows disrupts a memory and history that is specific to the artist; subsequently referencing mainstream’s detrimental absorption of First Nations culture. Nevertheless, Nicolson’s incorporation of traditional imagery and beliefs alongside contemporary media offers a positive opportunity to learn, discuss and preserve Kwakwaka'wakw culture. The immediacy and quietness of this installation provide us also with a way of honoring and identifying with the artist’s own personal account of death and loss, as well as our own experiences with mortality. The title itself originates from the root bax’wane’ that refers to the soul. The imagery presented communicates a belief of the Dzawada’enuxw people that the souls of humans reside in the bodies of owls. In Kwakwaka'wakw culture the soul is also linked to the shadow. “The soul has no bone and no blood, for it is like smoke or like a shadow.” -- Boas-Hunt, quoting a Kwakwaka'wakw from the 1900s. Jessie Lacayo, Curator