Jeneen Frei Njootli: Time Immemorial
September 11 – October 10, 2015
Opening Reception and Performance: Friday, September 11, 7 pm – 12 am
Gam Gallery is pleased to present the work of Jeneen Frei Njootli in the main gallery in conjunction with Swarm, the annual festival of artist-run culture.
“Theory” is generated and regenerated continually through embodied practice and within each family, community and generation of people. “Theory” isn’t just an intellectual pursuit – it is woven within kinetics, spiritual presence and emotion, it is contextual and relational. It is intimate and personal, with individuals themselves holding the responsibility for finding and generating meaning within their own lives. Most importantly, “theory” isn’t just for academics; it’s for everyone. (Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, 2014)
Time Immemorial is an exhibition by artist Jeneen Frei Njootli that grows out of a consideration of the differences between knowledge situated within the academy or the art world and that of a specifically Gwich’in gaze. A refutation of the term “Loucheux,” an offensive word used to describe and name the Gwich’in people that roughly translates to and implies “being tilted in the head”, Frei Njootli’s work counters colonial modes of thought in its representation and synthesis of land based knowledge and traditional practices through contemporary visual arts, audio-visual technologies and performance. Through the creation of what the artist calls “sound tools,” the work speaks to the shifting culture of Northern Indigenous peoples, their relationship with the Porcupine Caribou Herd and sounds that are uniquely brought to life by their movement through the landscape they inhabit, much like how language and song came into existence. This exhibition looks at presence and the residue of such relationships as well as how they both build upon and diverge from traditions. How is knowledge transferred, taken in and disseminated? In what ways is history embodied in material? How are their echoes carried with us in our ancestral memory?
Jeneen Frei Njootli is a Gwich’in artist and a founding member of the ReMatriate collective. In 2012, she graduated from Emily Carr University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts after working as a Curatorial Assistant for Rita Wong’s Downstream: Reimagining Water project. Later that year, she went on to hold a Visual Art Studio Work Study position at The Banff Centre, which led to her participation in two thematic residencies there in subsequent years, led by Duane Linklater in 2013 and Postcommodity in 2014. She is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree as an uninvited guest on unceded Musqueam territory at the University of British Columbia. Frei Njootli’s practice concerns itself with Indigeneity-in-politics, community engagement and productive disruptions. She has worked as a performance artist, workshop facilitator, crime prevention youth coordinator, hunter/trapper and has exhibited across Canada.