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Urban Myths: Aboriginal Artists in the City

Karsh-Masson Gallery July 10, 2000 to September 24, 2000


Sandra Dyck and Jeffrey M. Thomas.

Ottawa: the capital of Canada, our home and Algonkin land. Ottawa and the sites/sights for which it is famed-Parliament Hill, Byward Market, Rideau Hall, national museums, Chateau Laurier, beds of tulips, Rideau Canal-lie within territory never ceded by the Algonkins. As the city of Ottawa began to take shape in the mid-nine­teenth century, the Algonkins were “settled” on reserves. Their his­toric displacement from the site of present-day Ottawa paved the way for the process of building a capital city.

Urban Myths is motivated by this metaphor of visibility and invisibili­ty. What we see in the metropolitan environment-buildings, monu­ments, parks, street names, neighbourhoods-reflects and repro­duces societal values. Yet there is little in the Ottawa landscape that valorizes or affirms the existence of its Aboriginal inhabitants. In the realm of public art, there is only the Indian Scout statue in Major’s Hill Park, and several totem poles scattered throughout the city.

The nine artists in Urban Myths do not pretend to offer straightfor­ward answers to the complex issues. What they do is make eclectic, compelling and often humorous works that comment on what it means to inhabit that urban landscape: its opportunities, entanglements, attachments, realities. They traverse an expansive range of topics-from authenticity and technology to history and identity.


English Version (Downloadable PDF)