Bandolier for Tenagàdinozìbi (The River that Stops One's Journey) Gatineau River
mixed media, 2022
45 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 5 1/2 in 115.6 x 29.2 x 14 cm
Collection of the Artist
Three rivers meet at the provincial border of Quebec and Ontario, also the area surrounding the municipalities of Ottawa on the Ontario side, and Gatineau on the Quebec side. The largest is the Kichi-Sìbì (Ottawa River) which, in the Algonquin dialect of Anishinaabemowin, means the great or big river. The Pasapkedjinawong (Rideau River) enters into the Kichi-Sìbì at the north east end of Ottawa. Here the rivers converge with the roar of two sets of falls. Within walking distance is the French Embassy and 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of Canadian Prime Ministers. Both structures sit atop the rocky cliffs that are characteristic of where the land meets the water on the Ottawa side.
On the south east end of Gatineau, the edge conditions are softer. Here the Tenàgàdinozibi (Gatineau River) slips into the Kichi-Sìbì with less spectacle - hushed lapping on sand covered in low brush. Smaller tributaries branch out with forests buffering the roadway infrastructure from the shore, even concealing from some perspectives the colonial architecture of Pointe-à-Gatineau, the settlement on the east side of the bridge that spans the mouth of the Tenàgàdinozibi. The contrast between the architecture and how the area may have looked pre-contact provide another way to understand the landscape, one marked by a turbulent colonial history. The shorelines reveal indicators of the conflicting narratives - colonial and Indigenous - of this land.
The bandolier bag is one of three by Barry Ace that honour the rivers of this confluence, along with Bandolier for Tenagàdinozìbi (The River that Stops One's Journey) (Gatineau River), Bandolier for Gichi-ziibi (Big River) (private collection), and Pasapkedjinawong (The river that passes between the rocks) (Rideau River). Each contains an embedded digital tablet that is activated by a motion detector upon approach. The digital device conveys the concept of animism as in Anishinaabemowin, a bandolier bag - gashkibidaagan - is understood as an animate object, one in relationship with those who encounter it. When each is activated, a video recording of the river being honoured is displayed. For the Tenagàdinozìbi, Ace has recorded a location upstream, rapids where the water rushes over rock, gaining momentum in the final moments of its journey to reach the greater flow of the Kichi-Sìbì.
The ziibaaska’iganan (jingles) that dangle from the bottom reference Jingle Dress Dance regalia worn by women at traditional gatherings. When the dancer moves, the jingles replicate the auditory experience of hearing water, a sound that is understood as healing, restoring equilibrium to one’s spirit. Telecommunication wires stream out from behind them. Other materials used in regalia - black velvet, bias edging and calico - are integrated into the design. The embellishment - capacitors, resistors and light-emitting diodes - references the medicinal flowers used in the curvilinear beadwork of the Anishinaabeg, motifs also used on regalia.
The titles on all the works bring to the fore the Algonquin dialect of Anishinaabemowin and the names they gave each river - zìbi (also sibi or sipi). In European settlements, Ace states, “The colonial names that supersede and disregard the original names do not come close to the descriptive quality of the rivers.” In the soft sand of theTenàgàdinozibi shoreline, a resting place is found.
We thank Leah Snyder, digital designer and writer, The L. Project, for contributing the above essay. Snyder writes about culture, technology and contemporary art, and is a regular contributor to the National Gallery of Canada's Gallery magazine and other Canadian art publications.
Please note: This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity and provenance signed by the artist.
The complete medium consists of: motion sensor display monitor with video, velvet, calico, synthetic bias, metal, wire, copper, plastic, bronze screen, glass beads, capacitors, resistors and light-emitting diodes.
Available for viewing at: Heffel Montreal
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