Monday, June 05, 2017

Pathways Through the Festival 4: Indigenous Women

Sierra Tasi Baker
Since ORIGINS was first established a decade ago, it's been really striking how many of the most important indigenous artists and thinkers we have featured have been women - and this year's Festival is no exception.  There has always been an energy and a power in indigenous women: and the challenges of the contemporary world are focussing that energy into creative and artistic responses, political activism, and a particular kind of feminist thought.
Prof. Marcia Langton
As with all indigenous ideas, indigenous feminism stands outside the mainstream, and offers balances and correctives to more "established" approaches.  This year's ORIGINS LECTURE is being given by Prof. Marcia Langton, the newly appointed Vice-Provost of Melbourne University, and probably the world's most distinguished indigenous academic.  A few years ago, Marcia famously took on the white Australian feminist icon Germaine Greer, in a widely publicised spat over Greer's essay Whitefella Jump Up.  So don't expect Greer-style feminism from her.  As well as her lecture, Marcia will be taking part in the TALKS programme over the first weekend, including a panel on INDIGENOUS WOMEN TODAY.
The 7 Stages of Grieving
Also from Australia comes the "Indigenous Everywoman" play THE SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEVING, in a powerhouse performance from Chenoa Deemal.  Here's an interview Chenoa did about the production, shortly before performing it at Sydney Opera House last month.  We're also delighted to be welcoming visual artist JULIE GOUGH, whose powerful re-readings of Australian colonial history have recently been acclaimed at the National Gallery of Australia's remarkable exhibition Defying Empire: the Legacy of 1967, which marks the 50th anniversary of the referendum making indigenous Australians citizens in their own country.
Tanya Tagaq
From the opposite side of the globe, but sharing many of the same colonial experiences, Inuk throat singer TANYA TAGAQ is our last-night star at ORIGINS.  Her music often deals with directly feminist themes, including all forms of rape — of women, of the land — while demanding justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women, as well as Indigenous peoples who’ve had their land and rights removed over centuries of abuse.  Her approach to feminism embraces the indigenous movement and its allies across the world.  "The act of feminism, it's not a female thing, it's a human thing," she says.  Tanya's feminism and activism are complemented by her friend Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, director of ANGRY INUK - an activist film par excellence, dealing with the seal hunt controversy, in which Tanya has been a very vocal participant.  When Alethea was nominated as Samara's Everyday Political Citizen, Juror Margaret Atwood said: "I nominate Alethea Arnaquq-Baril for bravely opening the door to a conversation that needs to happen."
White Lies
New Zealand and Pacific women aren't neglected either, with the UK premiere of WHITE LIES - a Māori film built around three very different women, and featuring a great performance from Whirimako Black.  The screening is followed by a Q&A with Dr. Ian Conrich, an expert in New Zealand film.
The New World
Behind it all lurks the elusive, semi-mythic figure of Pocahontas, who visited London a full 400 years ago.  ORIGINS marks the anniversary with a screening of Terrence Malick's visionary film about her life, THE NEW WORLD at Picturehouse Central.  The screening is followed by a Q&A with Stephanie Pratt, an art historian whose Dakota Sioux name approximates to Pocahontas, and whose life in some ways reflects her Powhatan predecessor's.  Stephanie will also be present at Syon House, the London home of the Dukes of Northumberland, where Pocahontas lived for a time, for our special commemoration REMEMBERING POCAHONTAS.  In the grounds where she once walked, three Native American women will commemorate and celebrate her.  Accompanying Stephanie will be Sierra Tasi Baker, of the Kwakwaka’wakw people, and our Indigenous Associate, Wampanoag scholar Gabe Hughes.

How wonderful to meet such an extraordinary group of modern indigenous women!

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