SAKAHÀN: International Indigenous Art
Ottawa (ON) - February 13, 2013
One of the National Gallery of Canada’s most ambitious contemporary art exhibitions to date
Closing on September 2, 2013
This summer, contemporary Indigenous art takes centre stage at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in the ambitious exhibition Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art. Poetic, unexpected and challenging, some 150 artworks by over 75 artists from around the world celebrate and interrogate distinct cultural, political and social moments experienced by Indigenous peoples. On view until September 2, 2013, Sakahàn is organized by the National Gallery of Canada, supported by the RBC Foundation and sponsored by CN. For more information, visit
Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art marks the beginning of an ambitious endeavour that is very close to our hearts: celebrating and showcasing the works of Aboriginal artists from around the world,” said NGC director and CEO Marc Mayer. “Indigenous art has been an important part of our national collection for over 50 years, and Sakahàn underscores our commitment to Indigenous artists both local and international.”
Sakahàn, meaning “to light a fire” in the language of the Algonquin peoples, is the largest survey of recent Indigenous art organized by a national institution. The exhibition features artworks by award-winning artists, including Rebecca Belmore, Brian Jungen, and Annie Pootoogook from Canada as well as internationally renown artists as Jimmie Durham (United States/Italy/Germany), Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand), and Teresa Margolles (Mexico/Spain). It also presents artists who have not yet received widespread exposure in North America, such as Toru Kaizawa (Japan), Venkat Raman Singh Shyam (India), and Outi Pieski (Finland). The artists’ approaches are as varied as their chosen media, which include performance art, drawing, installations, painting, photography, sculpture and video. Several new works will be created specifically for the exhibition.
Sakahàn Partners
Contemporary Indigenous art will also be in the spotlight at partner organizations, galleries and institutions who will be presenting exciting installations and exhibitions alongside Sakahàn. The confirmed partners include: Carleton University Art Gallery, Gallery 101, SAW Gallery, Ottawa Art Gallery, SAW Video Media Art Centre, Ottawa School of Art, Aboriginal Art Centre, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada; and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
Exhibition curators
The curatorial team of Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art is Greg Hill, NGC Audain Curator of Indigenous Art; Christine Lalonde, NGC Associate Curator of Indigenous Art; and Candice Hopkins, NGC Elizabeth Simonfay Guest Curator.
Contemporary Indigenous art around the world
To best represent a broad spectrum of Indigenous artists, the curatorial team worked with an international advisory committee. The advisors fulfilled various roles, providing historical and cultural background, highlighting current events and issues, recommending artists and other possible participants, acting as liaisons with artists and cultural agencies, and providing feedback on the conceptual framework of the exhibition. Over the course of three years, the curatorial team also made more than 50 research trips to meet artists and visit galleries and arts agencies in over 10 countries and regions. Thanks to this collaborative effort, the exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists from countries such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Greenland, Guatemala, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Norway, Samoa, Taiwan and the United States.
Help create one of the exhibition’s artworks
Marie Watt is one of the artists creating a new work which will be on display at the NGC for Sakahàn. Entitled Blanket Stories: Seven Generations, Adawe, and Hearth, her ambitious installation will be arranged into multiple columns, reflecting the Indigenous teaching of seven generations. Members of the public are invited to trade a blanket and share their story with the artist, who will incorporate their contribution into the installation. In exchange, donors will receive a limited edition print from the artist. For details on how to donate your blanket and story to the Gallery,
Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art — the catalogue
The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue which will feature essays by the curatorial team, members of the advisory committee, and invited authors. Published by the NGC, the catalogue will be available in May 2013 at the NGC Bookstore and online at
Connect with Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art
The NGC regularly publishes information about the exhibition on its social media networks. To find out more, connect with:
Twitter: @gallerydotca
Admission to Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art 
Free with general admission to the NGC Collection: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $6 youth 12-19, and $24 families (2 adults and 3 youth). Free admission at all times for NGC Members and children under 12. Free admission Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm. For more information, call 613.998.8888 or 1.888.541.8888.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information: