Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts08/18/2022 - 10/30/2022
Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts
August 18 – October 30, 2022
Curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson
Tour Organized by Independent Curators International (ICI)
How can a score be a call and tool for decolonization?
Curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson, Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts features newly commissioned scores, performances, videos, sculptures and sound by Indigenous and other artists who respond to this question. Unfolding in a sequence of five parts, the scores take the form of beadwork, videos, objects, graphic notation, historical belongings, and written instructions. During the exhibition these scores are activated at specific moments by musicians, dancers, performers and members of the public, gradually filling the gallery and surrounding public spaces with sound and action.
The exhibition is cumulative, limning an ever-changing community of artworks, shared experience and engagement as it travels. Soundings shifts and evolves, gaining new artists and players in each location. Some artworks have multiple parts, others change to their own rhythm as the exhibition grows.
At the core of the exhibition is a grounding in concepts of Indigenous land and territory. To move beyond the mere acknowledgement of land and territory here means offering instructions for sensing and listening to Indigenous histories that trouble the colonial imaginary. Soundingsactivates and asserts Indigenous resurgence through the actions these artworks call forth.
Raven Chacon and Cristóbal Martínez, Sebastian De Line, Camille Georgeson-Usher, Kite, Germaine Koh, Aaron Leon, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Logan MacDonald, Chandra Melting Tallow, Ogimaa Mikana, Peter Morin, Diamond Point and Jordan Point, Taylor Jordan Riner, Heidi Senungetuk, Greg Staats, Olivia Whetung, and Tania Willard, with more performers, artists and composers invited to respond and create new works as the exhibition travels to each new venue.
Friday, August 26, 5 – 8 p.m.
Friday, September 23, 5 p.m.
Woodpile Score, A score by Tania Willard performed by Sound Art Collaborative. At KCAI, in the greenspace near KCAI Gallery. 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111. MORE INFO
Friday, September 30, 7 p.m.
Listener, A performance by the artist, Kite. At KCAI, Epperson Auditorium at KCAI. 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111. MORE INFO
Saturday, October 8, 12 noon
NDN Love Songs, A score by Peter Morin performed by Amado Espinoza. At KCAI Gallery. 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111. MORE INFO
Thursday, October 13, 7 p.m.
Woodpile Score, A score by Tania Willard performed by Bird Fleming and the Traditional Music Society. At KCAI, near the KCAI Gallery. 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111. MORE INFO
Wednesday, October 26, 7 p.m.
American Ledger (no. 1), A score by Raven Chacon performed by a local ensemble with Paul Rudy conducting. At Agnes Arts,1328 Agnes Ave. Kansas City, MO 64127. MORE INFO
Thursday, October 27, 6:30 p.m.
A FREE public lecture by artist, Raven Chacon. At Johnson County Community College, Midwest Trust Center, Yardley Hall,12345 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS 66210. MORE INFO
(Skarù:ręˀ – maternal / Kanien’kehá:ka)
Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory 1963
Currently based in Tkaronto, Mississaugas of the Credit, Hodinöhsö:ni’, Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, and Wendake-Nionwentsïo Territory
Do’-gah – I don’t know [shrugging shoulders]
Archival canvas matte print, oil, earth, indian tobacco ash
edition 1 of 3
Indigenous Art Collection, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
If the Hodinöhsö:ni’ perception of monument relies on the good mind, and if our values are realized in the daily recitation of the Ganö:nyök [Thanksgiving Address], which places our minds, bodies and footsteps in creation, countervailing trauma, can this process itself then be seen as monument?
Land is the Hodinöhsö:ni’ monument for where we place our feet. Earth is where we remember. To sustain the integrity of the good mind and cultural safety when dealing with trans communal relations, it is imperative that I remain hyper-vigilant that misinformation is assimilation.
Our ways to remembering are dependent on the ability to express our values in relation to the Land and its truth. It is with this in mind that I created Do’-gah, a multi-layered response and relational strategy brought forward from my on-reserve lived experience.
Do-gah – I don’t know [shrugging shoulders] is a performative gestural mnemonic work whose source comes from my grade school Mohawk lesson handouts and the word/gesture as experienced within my community. The viewer is requested to perform all 60 phrases with and without the gestured shrugging. Carrying many levels of meaning, the work speaks to a systemic forgetting, lateral violence and trauma.
- I do know, but I refuse to tell you, just for today.
- I need to remind you, that you can’t know everything.
- I don’t know, and because you asked me and expect a detailed answer, I feel shame and anger at once for the irony of the colonial systemic deficits and for your extractive expectation of presumed knowledge.
- I don’t know, and I refuse to find out for you.
- I’ve heard you, and will think about it. Time and reflection for considered response of what I shall tell you on my own time and to ensure cultural safety.
- I do know, and I need to tell you the protocols of our relations moving forward.
- I don’t know – my language.
Greg Staats is Skarù:reˀ [Tuscarora] / Kanien’kehá:ka [Mohawk], Hodinöhsö:ni’. b. 1963, Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. A Toronto based artist whose Hodinöhsö:ni restorative aesthetic employs mnemonics of condolence and performative burdens articulated in visual forms that hold body and place including: oral transmission, text works, embodied wampum, photographic, sculpture, installation and video. Staats’ practice conceptualizes Land as monument embodied within a continuum of relational placemaking with his on-reserve lived experience, trauma, and the explorations of ceremonial orality. Staats’ lens based language documents cycles of return towards a complete Onkwehón:we neha [our original ways] positionality, reciprocity and worldview.
Greg Staats, actively exhibiting as a full time artist, since 1988 Staats studied Applied Photography, Sheridan College, ON  and is the recipient of the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography 1999. Staats was Faculty for two Aboriginal Visual Arts Residencies, Banff Centre: Archive Restored (2009) and Towards Language (2010). Staats’ works are held in public, private and corporate collections. Upcoming solo exhibitions: Art Gallery of Ontario, CONTACT Photo Festival at Todmorden Mills.  and Art Gallery of Hamilton, ON (2023). Staats has been shortlisted for the 2021 Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography at Harvard University. Staats has also been shortlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Photography Award.
Michael Schonhoff, KCAI Gallery, 2022
Performing Do’-gah – I Don’t Know [Shrugging Shoulders]
by Greg Staats (Skaru:ręˀ / Kanien’keha:ka), 2020
Performed August 18, 2022
Digital video: Oz Overshiner
Courtesy of the KCAI Gallery
Resources for Further Research
Additional information and writings about Greg Staats, compiled by the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery team.
- Visit Greg Staats’ website
- Read Greg Staats’ artist statement (August 2020)
- Watch Greg Staats’ interview in the 2014 artist-in-residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario
- Read about Greg Staats’ work in liminal disturbance
- Read an article about Greg Staats’ work by Jenny Western
- Read about Greg Staats’ practice by Philip Monk
- Read an article about Greg Staats’ practice by Andrea N. Walsh
- Watch Lorna Brown, Associate Director/Curator of the Belkin, perform Do’-gah
- Visit e-artexte for more Greg Staats resources
Suggested Further Reading
Berson, Amber. “Unspoken Loss: Greg Staats.” Montréal: articule, 2011. Exhibition Essay.
Hill, Richard (Rick) W., Sr. Greg Staats: liminal disturbance. Hamilton ON: McMaster Museum of Art, 2011. Exhibition Catalogue.
Houle, Robert, Sheila Staats, and Alf Bogusky. Greg Staats: Reciprocity. Kitchener, Ontario: Kitchener–Waterloo Art Gallery. 2007. Exhibition Catalogue.
Kelly, JP. “it dropped down their minds / for at least one day you should continue to think calmly.” Toronto: Trinity Square Video. 2013. Exhibition Essay. http://www.trinitysquarevideo.com/greg-staats/.
Western, Jenny. “Greg Staats: Condolence.” Winnipeg: Urban Shaman Gallery. 2009. Exhibition Essay.
Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts is an exhibition curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson, and organized by Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Canada. The traveling exhibition is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI). The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, with the generous support from ICI’s International Forum and the ICI Board of Trustees. Additional support has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter Program, the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Kingston Arts Fund through the Kingston Arts Council, and the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund at Queen’s University.
Additional support at KCAI comes from The Gattermeir Family Foundation, Travois, Sharon and John Hoffman and Linda Lighton. Other supporters through performance and academic partnerships include the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College, the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and The Patricia and Howard Barr Institute for American Composition Studies at UMKC. A special thanks to Gaylene Crouser and the Kansas City Indian Center, Bruce Hartman, Bill Sundahl, Davin Watne, Paul Rudy, Dr. Robert Warrior, Dr. Alex Red Corn, Braxton Redeagle and the Osage Nation Language Department, and Sonié Joi Thompson-Ruffin.