Indigenous-led program to feature performances, talks, poetry and music by artists Rebecca Belmore, Stan Douglas, Jeremy Dutcher, Jeffrey Gibson, New World Order and Laura Ortman alongside ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ artists Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara and Anders Sunna
TORONTO — aabaakwad, the art world’s foremost Indigenous-led gathering, today announces its fourth event, happening April 22-25, 2022, as part of the extended program of ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ project under the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Bringing together more than 100 artists, writers and curators from more than 25 First Nations and seven countries, aabaakwad 2022: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ arrives in Venice to celebrate the Nordic Pavilion’s historic recognition of the art and sovereignty of the Sámi people, with four days of free events. Independently organized, artist centered and Indigenous-led, the gathering is co-presented by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA).
“With each iteration of aabaakwad we showcase the power, innovation and diversity of Indigenous Arts, we assert our sovereignty and create moments of transformation. The opening of the Sámi Pavilion, in this nation-based setting, is an exciting moment for Indigenous artists globally,” says Wanda Nanibush, Anishinaabe Curator of Indigenous Art, AGO and event co-founder. “aabaakwad 2022 affords us the unique opportunity to welcome pavilion artists past and present, to hear from Indigenous artists whose work has been featured and understand its impact on their work and their practice. As part of our first ever international mentorship program, we will be joined by the next generation of curators.”
Happening at the Don Orione Cultural Centre, with additional events at Ocean Space and the Conservatorio di Musica Benedetto Marcello di Venezia, aabaakwad 2022: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ opens on Friday, April 22 with a series of conversations on nationhood and artmaking featuring artists Sonia Boyce and Brett Graham, as well as musical performances by Kulleh Comrade and Jeremy Dutcher. The keynote will be delivered by ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ artists Pauliina Feodoroff, Máret Ánne Sara and Anders Sunna in conversation with their knowledge keepers.
A series of live performances from poets and artists Denilson Baniwa, Rebecca Belmore, Timimie Märak and Janet Rogers will happen on April 23 and 24. Scheduled speakers include Brook Andrew, Raven Chacon, Stan Douglas, Jeffrey Gibson, Ursula Johnson, Vernon Ah Kee, Alan Michelson, Darlene Naponse, Rachel Rakena, r e a, Judy Watson and many more.
Previously presented in 2020 at the Sydney Biennale, and in 2021 at the AGO, aabaakwad 2022: The Sámi Pavilion is generously supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, BLAK C.O.R.E, an initiative of Museums & Collections at the University of Melbourne, the Canada Council for the Arts, Ocean Space, Riddu Riđđu Festival, Stardust Arts, Terra Foundation for American Art and TBA21- Academy. For more information, visit aabaakwad.com/current-
“We are jubilant that aabaakwad comes to the Biennale Arte for the first time in solidarity with, and celebration of, the historic Samification of the Nordic Pavilion by ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ project,” said Katya García-Antón, Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, lead commissioner of the Nordic Pavilion. “OCA’s commitment to centre Sámi perspectives in the Nordic and international arts arena has grown in strength over the last decade. During this journey we have been especially mindful to facilitate the shared perspectives between Sámi and Indigenous artists, curators and thinkers across the world. We are deeply honoured that with aabaakwad 2022: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’ this common ground for sovereign Indigenous thinking and artistic practice is strengthened further.”
“I relish this opportunity to hear and see so many Indigenous artists from around the globe. To talk about contemporary relevance is to be engaged with Indigenous art as a global movement. My heartfelt congratulations to Wanda and the team leading aabaakwad 2022,” said Stephan Jost, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO of the AGO.
Australia Council Executive Director First Nations Arts and Culture Franchesca Cubillo said, “The Australia Council is delighted to again support this important global gathering of First Nations visual artists, curators, cultural thinkers and knowledge keepers. These international gatherings provide the opportunity for respectful engagement, sharing cultural practice and information and establishing supportive and empowering networks that crisscross the globe. We congratulate the Australian First Nations creatives who will be among those showcased in this event, as part of the 59th Venice Biennale.”
“We are proud to support aabaakwad 2022: ‘The Sami Pavilion’ in Venice and to once again partner on this unique arts gathering foregrounded in sovereign expression,” said Simon Brault, Director and CEO, Canada Council for the Arts. “As an Indigenous-led space for meaningful connections between artists, curators and thinkers, aabaakwad gives participants of the Venice Biennale the opportunity to engage with a major international platform on their own terms.”
aabaakwad (it clears after a storm) is an annual Indigenous-led conversation on Indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it. A gathering that alternates annually between Toronto and international venues, aabaakwad showcases dynamic dialogue examining themes, materials and experiences in Indigenous art practice globally. Founded in 2018, aabaakwad is Indigenous-led and artist-centred, and its program is guided by an international curatorial committee, whose members include Brook Andrew (Wiradjuri, Australia), Liisa Rávná Finborg (Sámi, Sapmi/Norway), Megan (Te Atiawa, Ngati mutunga, Ngai Tahu, Kati Memoe, new Zealand/Aotearoa), Greg Hill (Kanyen’kehaka, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory/Canada), Heather Igloliorte (Inuk, Nunatsiavut, Canada), Elias Yamani Ismail (Orang Asal, Malaysia), Alan Michelson (Mohawk, USA), Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe, Canada), Beaska Niillas (Sapmi/ Norway), Jolene Rickard (Tuscarora, USA) and Megan Temati-Quenell (Te Atiawa, Ngati Mutunga, Ngai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, New Zealand/Aotearoa).