Exhibition: Stephen Bulger Gallery - Jeff Thomas - Resistance is NOT Futile
Exhibition Dates: December 1, 2012 - January 19, 2013
Reception: Saturday, December 1, 2-5pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, December 1, 1pm (RSVP)
TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - The work of American photographer Edward S. Curtis, particularly his seminal work The North American Indian, has been the focal point for this project. Jeff Thomas does not recreate a modern version of Curtis' study of tribal culture, but considers what he did not photograph as a stepping stone to this new body of work. Thomas' work engages the people he photographed, yet breaks through the seeming stasis of Curtis' photographs by constructing a post-colonial conversation on Indianness.
Thomas (b. 1956; Buffalo, USA) is a self-taught photo-based artist and curator whose career in the visual arts began in 1979, following a life-changing car accident. He turned to an already-existing interest in photography in order to begin a new life and focused on confronting photo-based stereotypes of Indigenous people. His research into photographic history pointed out two significant absences: images of Indigenous people living in cities and images produced by Indigenous people. Thomas was frustrated by these absences and the silences they engendered and began to challenge these silences by creating new conversations through his photo-based work.
As an independent curator, Thomas' specialty is the exploration of historical cultural resources to bring voices, stories and perspectives into the present. In his curatorial projects, such as "Where are the Children: Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools" and "Emergence From the Shadow: First Peoples' Photographic Perspectives" at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and "Aboriginal Portraits" at the National Archives of Canada, Thomas mined the archival vaults of non-Native visual and written records to recover lost elements of the history of Indigenous people.
Thomas' work would eventually lead him to self-identify as an urban-Iroquois - someone who was born in Buffalo, New York, and is also an enrolled member of the Six Nations reserve in Ontario. Finding a balance between the Iroquois identity that his elders at Six Nations instilled in him and surviving as an Indian in the city lead him to weave a new story from the fragmented cultural elements left in the wake of North American colonialism.
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