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Eli Hirtle : Re-trace

Fri. August 21st 2015 - Mon. August 31st 2015 ALL DAY> ALL NIGHT> ALL THE TIME
I am a self-taught visual artist and storyteller of mixed Cree and European ancestry, born and raised in Victoria on Lekwungen and Wsanec territories. My current interests are where art and activism intersect, and how communities and individuals can be motivated and catalyzed to be the change they want to see in the world by creative acts of resistance, resurgence, and decolonization.

Photography is my first love, but I also work with documentary film, collage, and kinetic sculpture. For years, using toy and antique cameras was my way to explore the world around me, as a visual diary of sorts. Multiple exposures with film have helped me decipher and make sense of the many layers within myself and my environment. Whether it be the city or in natural settings, I see these overlapping images as representative of the various elements that simultaneously make up our contemporary landscapes, outer and inner. More recently, my political and personal interests in Indigenous history, land-rights, and exploitation of lands by industry, led me to make a documentary about the Unist'ot'en Camp on Wet'suwet'en territory in Northern BC titled Resist: The Unist'ot'en's Call to the Land.

My political activism has led me back to the body of work I'm exploring in this show, re-tracing the crucial experience of attending Dechinta, a land-based bush University in the Northwest Territories that changed and radicalized my thinking and feeling about being Indigenous, and what resurgence and decolonization mean to me. Taught by Dene elders, we were shown how to tan moose-hides, trap muskrat, beaver, and rabbit, set fish-nets under a frozen lake, and gather medicines and teachings from the land with reciprocity and respect at the forefront of our learning experience. These photos are my way of remembering and relating those cultural instructions for others to think about, to start conversations about how and where it is possible to be engaging in these practices, and what it means to be an urbanized Indigenous person re-connecting with traditional ways of living and learning in a colonized world.

The exhibition space and work is generously supported by the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria in collaboration with the Greater Victoria Public Library & the Ministry of Casual Living
Presented by: The Ministry of Casual Living