Duane Linklater – ​Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes, 2017

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Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes, 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable
Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes (detail), 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable
Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes (detail), 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable
Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes (detail), 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable
Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes, 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable. Installation view, In Search of Expo 67, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017

In this work, Duane Linklater examines the institutionalization and historicization of Indigenous bodies and artworks. His site-specific wall painting references Earth Mother and Her Children, created for the wood panel exterior of the Indians of Canada Pavilion by Norval Morrisseau. It was in fact Carl Ray, Morrisseau’s assistant, who executed the mural on behalf of the artist, for reasons that remain nebulous but may relate to the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) request that Morriseau alter the work, as they found it too explicit, depicting as it did human and animal representations suckling on the breasts of Mother Earth. In its final rendition, it was altered─censored─and an “appropriate” distance was kept between Mother Earth and her children. Morrisseau’s absence is echoed in Linklater’s own contracting of Julie Ouellet to execute his interpretation of the hair and eyes of the original design. The Indians of Canada Pavilion was particularly charged politically. It consisted of six large-scale works by contemporary artists and a totem pole, as well as photographic and textual documents that explicitly denounced the history and treatment of Native peoples in Canada, including the residential school system, which was in full operation in 1967. Linklater reminds us of these legacies “which we are still experiencing, witnessing and making our way through today.”

Duane Linklater, Earth Mother Hair, Indian Hair, and Earth Mother Eyes, Indian Eyes, Animal Eyes, 2017, paint on wall, dimensions variable