Reading the Talk brings together work by contemporary First Nations artists who critically examine relationships to land, region and territory. Through a variety of practices, including video, sculpture, installation and photography, artists Michael Belmore, Hannah Claus, Patricia Deadman, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Keesic Douglas and Melissa General consider distinct indigenous perspectives on the history of treaties in the land now referred to as Canada. Inspired by the historical Dish with One Spoon Treaty, guest curators Rachelle Dickenson and Lisa Myers invited each artist to consider the effects of this specific treaty as well as the function of wampum beads as mnemonic devices used by leaders to “read the talk” of agreements between nations. Drawing from this rich history, Reading the Talk raises questions of land use and value, and elucidates the continuing role of both treaties and the wampum for Indigenous peoples. Reading the Talk is accompanied by a catalogue featuring essays by curators Dickenson and Myers.
Rachelle Dickenson (British/Irish/Cree Metis) is a curator, arts administrator and educator based in Ottawa. She currently works at the National Gallery of Canada as Curatorial Assistant in Indigenous Art and is a board member of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and SAW Gallery. Lisa Myers is of Anishnaabe ancestry from Beausoleil First Nation and the Georgian Bay region. She works as an independent curator and artist and has a MFA in Criticism and Curatorial practice from OCAD University. She has curated exhibitions for the Harbourfront Centre, Gallery 44 and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. She lives and works in Toronto and Port Severn, Ontario.