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The Fifth World


Sonny Assu, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Scott Benesiinaabandan, Jordan Bennett, Nicholas Galanin, Ursula Johnson, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Meryl McMaster, Skeena Reece, Travis Shilling and Charlene Vickers.

Curated by Wanda Nanibush to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Tribe Inc. a Saskatoon-based centre for evolving Aboriginal media, visual and performing arts.

The Fifth World marks out a new consciousness within humanity where we begin to relearn our responsibilities after being humbled by disasters of our own creation. “The world that the capitalists envision is the one-world economy, that is their fifth world. But the fifth world is a new consciousness in the hearts of all human beings, the idea that the earth is shared and finite, and that we are naturally connected to the earth and with one another,” writes Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie Marmon Silko about her concept of the Fifth World from her novel Almanac of the Dead which inspired the title of this exhibition.

Since contact we have been making the choice between unbalanced destruction and harmony with the land. Last year we danced with all Canadians in the Idle No More movement which started as a movement to change legislation and became a movement renewing and recommitting to fulfill our responsibilities to the earth and water. Every movement, protest, blockade, walk, song and dance is in defence of the defenceless and the necessary. Every assertion of Indigenous sovereignty on the land is a dreaming. As Turtle Island becomes a site of massive resource extraction and the world economy tips the balance of the earth towards global warming, Indigenous Peoples and their inherent rights to the lands now called Canada and the United States, are where capitalism will have its last stand.

This dreaming is not the romantic noble savage of colonial stereotypes it is based in a deep and profound knowledge of what is needed to sustain human life on earth and democratic governance between us. It is a profound critique of western colonial thought which subjugates the body to the mind, the woman to the man, all humans to the white man, the animal to the human, the individual will to the government, truth to the lie,  peace to war, water to the tailing pond, creativity to the clock, the earth to the economy. This new consciousness is rising everywhere and we can feel it the smallest action and the largest round dance.

(Excerpt from text by Wanda Nanibush)

Image credit: Meryl McMaster, Murmur 1, 2013, ink jet print, 228.6 cm x 152.4 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Katzman Contemporary. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Meryl McMaster

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