How we see one another

Exhibit poses questions on the way Indigenous, non-Indigenous people relate to each other

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This article was published 05/03/2018 (1727 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A discussion on the bright potential for collaboration between communities is happening in the halls of the University of Manitoba’s school of art.

Sébastien Aubin’s no brighter in the middle is currently on exhibit in the school’s gallery until April 13. The show, which opened on Feb. 26, is the culmination of Aubin’s six month term as the university’s inaugural Indigenous designer in residence.

Aubin currently lives and works as a graphic artist in Montreal and returned to his home province in September to take part in the residency. He is also a founding member of the Montreal-Winnipeg based ITWÉ Collective, which creates work exploring Indigenous digital culture, and has pieces currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Danielle Da Silva - Sou'wester Sébastien Aubin’s no brighter in the middle is currently on exhibit at the University of Manitoba school of art gallery until April 13. Aubin is the university’s first Indigenous designer in residence.

The 39-year-old from Opaskwayak Cree Nation said no brighter in the middle is the starting point for a conversation about contemporary and historical relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in North America.

“It’s a community oriented work, what I’ve done here in regards to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, so that they can come and see the show and probably get into a dialogue with each other and maybe share a moment that’s positive,” Aubin said.

Seven works form the mixed media exhibit: “Shedding some light,” a print featuring Aubin’s Cree syllabic font; “Laudation,” a series of single shoes recovered from the dump near OCN coated in plastic; “Breathing the same air,” an installation of metal ducts rising from the gallery floor; “Pass it on,” a pillar of 120 gloves donated by the Klondike Sterling company destined to be donated to people in need; “Unnatural,” a set of moose antlers in shrink wrap plastic; “Infinitely combined,” an audio and visual collaboration with Simon Guibord and Rachel Monnier; and “Would we look at each other in the mirrors we traded,” a cross made of mirror and high density polyethylene inscribed with “Let’s ask,” in Cree.

Each piece offers commentary or poses a question about the way Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples choose to relate to each other, Aubin explained.

“Would we look at each other in the mirrors we traded,” is in reference to historical accounts of how Indigenous people gave land to settlers for trinkets, like mirrors, and what that means in today’s context, he said.

“The thing is that we took these mirrors as Indigenous people and also these mirrors were given to us, so who’s at fault in that perspective,” Aubin said.

“I think we’re at a point within the grand scheme of things in the Indigenous community where I think we really need to share with the non-Indigenous a lot, and have that understanding that that past has happened but not always making it the precursor to conversation between one another,” he said.

Danielle Da Silva - Sou'wester file photo At the rear, Would we look at each other in the mirrors we traded, by Sébastien Aubin and in the foreground, Unnatural.

Taken as a whole, no brighter in the middle, encourages audiences to consider how individual expression and reciprocal support can create a sense of camaraderie and connection.

“You can’t shine brighter without the community,” Aubin said. “You can think that you shine, but without anyone around you you’re just narcissistic. You need to share.

“Alone we’re not as good. We’re better as a collective, and as a community, and everybody is not more or less important.”

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