Dana Claxton: Made To Be Ready

Dana Claxton, Cultural Belongings, 2015. Firebox (LED Lightbox with Transmounted Lightjet Duratrans). Image courtesy of the artist.
Audain Gallery, Vancouver
January 14 - March 12, 2016

Dana Claxton's practice explores the spiritual, political and cultural life of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, specifically those of Plains First Nations. Her films, videos, photographs, multi-channel installations and performances critique the representation of Indigenous people within Western anthropology, art and entertainment.
Claxton's new photographs and video works in Made To Be Ready are informed by her attention to Indigenous womanhood and sovereignty. Drawing on the ideas of Anishinaabe writer and scholar Gerald Vizenor, particularly his notion of survivance which unifies survival and resilience as a means of resistance, Claxton's photos picture Indigenous women commanding their own mediation of cultural, political and spiritual ways of being and doing.

The women in these works captivate the life force of Lakota cultural belongings that are to be actively used in domestic work, warfare, social space and ritual. They counter the commodification of Indigenous aesthetics and the preservation of "artifacts." The works are charged with Claxton’s concept of the Indigenous made-to-be-ready, which draws attention to the everyday aura of aesthetic forms, inverting the concept of the modernist ready-made and its attention to the aesthetic aura of everyday forms.

Claxton is from the Lakota First Nations-Wood Mountain reserve in Southwest Saskatchewan. She lives and works in Vancouver, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia. Her work has been shown internationally at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Eiteljorg Museum, Indianapolis; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. She’s participated in the 17th Biennale of Sydney, 2010; La Biennale de Montréal, 2007; and Le Havre biennale d’art contemporain, 2006.