Caroline Monnet is a multidisciplinary artist of Anishinaabe and French heritage from Outaouais, Quebec. Her work is known for its deft interweaving of Indigenous traditional visual culture and the canonized language of modernist abstraction in the investigation of subjects such as Indigenous identity, bicultural living, and the impact of colonialism. Her inventive, hybrid forms offer alternative cultural models for our consideration and enable the viewer to envision new possibilities for the future.
Echoes from a near future, the titular work of Caroline Monnet’s 2022 exhibition, is a group portrait that collapses time. The past, present and future coexist, one informing another, no memory left behind but, equally, no future possibility left unrealized. The work’s expansive temporality is underscored by the three generations of Indigenous women photographed. The unwavering sun, of dawn or dusk or both, seems to stand for the ushering in of a new day, a new era.
The work, and Monnet’s oeuvre in general, touches on the concept of Indigenous Futurism not by imagining an idealized past without colonization, but by acknowledging and dissecting that very real history and debunking the notion that Indigenous culture is somehow a relic of the past or without its place in the future. In Echoes from a near future, both its contemporaneity and futurity resonate loud and clear. The subjects of the portrait are all critical female advocates for Indigenous life and contributors to the current cultural landscape, one being the filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin. Their vestments – vessels, as they can be, for self-image – are a fusion of traditional motifs and futuristic silhouettes, with all the dignity of regalia. The subjects’ sharp and steady gazes remind us that the ability to envision the future is essential for intentionally creating it.
Presented by Blouin Divison, Montreal & Toronto.
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