This fall, the MMFA will present Artist. Woman. Indigenous. It will feature the work of Indigenous female artists in exhibitions as well as displaying recent acquisitions.
For its fifteenth edition, MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image (previously Mois de la Photo à Montréal) presents What Does the Image Stand For? As part of this event, the MMFA will be presenting the Quebec premieres of Ontario photographer Meryl McMasters’s two series, “In-Between Worlds” (2010-2015) and “Wanderings” (2015).
McMaster belongs to a generation of Indigenous artists who, by means of photography and a performative approach, explore First Nations’ identity and their cultural horizon. McMaster trains a self-reflexive eye on the exploration of her dual heritage: Plains Cree and member of the Siksika Nation on her father’s side and Euro- Canadian (British and Dutch) on her mother’s side. She lives and works in Ottawa. McMaster completed a BFA at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto (2010), where she specialized in photography. Her works have been presented in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Great Britain. She is the recipient of the Hnatyshyn Foundation’s REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, Ottawa (2017), and the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, Indianapolis (2013). She was also a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2016.
In her photographs, McMaster uses an array ofaccessories – clothes, adornments, necklaces,talismans – that become extensions of the body. These amount to a telescoping of identities. She presents herself in nature and sees the landscape and seasons as an integral part of the cultural context, where myth and narration go hand in hand.
The series “In-Between Worlds” (2010-2015) explores the combination and transmutation of bicultural identities and examines the imbrication of cultural histories. As in a rite of passage, the artist assumes new attributes – talismans or accessories resembling sculptures – without fully renouncing her former status. The different moments in the work all constitute portraits that could be interpreted as parables. In “Wanderings” (2015), the fiction serves as a premise for a nomadism seen as a singular world rich in discoveries, allowing for both escape from and rediscovery of the self. The idea of duality is central to this story, which puts individuality to the test. McMaster believes that the creation and the incarnation of different characters create a welcome complexity.