February 20, 2024

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Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art. is a visual and audio journey into the deep roots of Indigenous activism on Turtle Island. Curated by Steve Loft, the timely and significant multimedia group exhibition opened to a packed house at the Ryerson University Image Centre in the fall of 2013. Ghost Dance profiles the works of artists: Sonny Assu, Vernon Ah Kee, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Dana Claxton, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Alan Michelson, Theo Sims, Skawennati, and Jackson 2bears.


Ghost Dance is grounded by the prophesy of Indigenous ancestor, Jack Wilson (or Wovoka), a young Paiute man, who in 1889 envisioned that peace and abundance would eventually come to Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. In Ghost Dance contemporary artists interpret the last two centuries of Indigenous resistance to colonial oppression up to the round dances of the Idle No More Movement sparked last year.


Key events in the landscape of Indigenous resistance are included in the exhibition such as the Red Power movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and the historic occupation by thousands of Native Americans of the infamous Island of Alcatraz in San Francisco for nearly 18 months, reclaiming it as Indian land and demanding fairness and respect for Indian peoples. Another important point of focus in the exhibition is the OKA crisis of 1990, when the peaceful vigil by the Mohawk citizens of Kanesatake, who were protesting against a plan by the municipality of Oka to enlarge a golf course on their ancestral territory, took a drastic turn when the Quebec provincial police attacked the protesters, leading to a 78 day standoff between Mohawks, the Quebec police, and eventually, the Canadian military.


Ghost Dance includes powerful themes of oppression, militarism, and ceremony which invite the audience to experience a raw and hopeful journey of Indigenous cultural survival across North America. Don’t miss Ghost Dance: Activism. Resistance. Art; it runs in Toronto until December 15, 2013.

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