September 20, 2019 – November 10, 2019
Truth to Material
Artist Krista Belle Stewart
Inquiry What are generations?
Truth to Material
Krista Belle Stewart is an artist and a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Syilx/Okanagan Nation, currently based in Berlin. Her work with video, land, performance, photography, textiles, and sound unfolds over long periods of time, drawing out personal and political narratives.
In 2006, she traveled to the Karl May Museum in Radebeul, Germany, where she met with ‘The Band of Broken Arrows’ one of many groups of German citizens who call themselves ‘Indianer’ inspired by the fictional novels of author Karl May. Indianer dress up in costume and perform what they imagine to be a North American Indigenous lifestyle. Stewart documented her experience during this trip, but waited to further develop the project.
It has now been thirteen years since Stewart’s initial meeting with this community. After returning to Germany as an artist-in-residence at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, she reconnected with the group of Indianer she met during her first visit. The number of people in the community has significantly dropped, almost by half. However, the culture of appropriation continues on. This summer, she was invited to participate in a large gathering of nearly 1000 Indianer from all over Europe. Enacting a kind of inverted anthropology, Stewart developed a new body of work revolving around these encounters for her solo exhibition at Nanaimo Art Gallery. While Indianer communities may seem at a distance, this exhibition can also be a point of reflection on the legacies of cultural inequality in British Columbia. Considering what happens when cultural appropriation becomes tradition,
Krista Belle Stewart’s project is the third exhibition in a year in which Nanaimo Art Gallery asks the question: what are generations?