Duane Linklater, Tautology

Duane Linklater, Tautology, 2011-2013, neon, wall-mounted box. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Purchased with the support of the York Wilson Endowment Award, administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, 2014. Photo: Andre Beneteau

Duane Linklater (b. 1976) is Omaskêko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation on James Bay. Winner of the 2013 Sobey Art Award, Canada’s pre-eminent award for contemporary art, Linklater has participated in exhibitions across North America. He currently resides in North Bay, Ontario.

Tautology is one in a suite of five neon sculptures depicting the thunderbird, a legendary creature in various North American Indigenous cultures. Linklater appropriated this specific thunderbird image from Norval Morrisseau’s seminal painting, Androgyny (1983). By reanimating the bird in neon—a contemporary, commercial material—Linklater inserts the traditional icon into contemporary discourse. In line with Duane’s previous work, Tautology explores notions of translation, repetition and symbolism to critically examine ideas of authorship and cultural appropriation.