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A conversation between Artist and Curator

This blog was active during Greg Staats’ residency, and is available here as a record of his work and research.

The focus of this dialogue between artist Greg Staats (Kanien'kehá:ka/Mohawk of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory) and Andrew Hunter (AGO Curator, Canadian Art) is the sharing of world views and perspectives in relation to the contemporary museum and practices of the collecting, care, display, interpretation and animation of objects. Part of an expanded exploration of understanding and nurturing a more profound indigenous presence in museums, this transformative dialogue is rooted in a consideration of the Haudenosaunee Condolence Ceremony and asks What can the contemporary art gallery/museum learn from this traditional ceremony of confronting trauma and promoting renewal?

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October 28th, 2014

artist selected condolence phrases

O-nen wen-ni-se-rade wa-ka-tye-ren kowah I suddenly became aware Ne-ne-ken de-ka-ron-wah-nyon Approaching, moving across, barriers Ne sa-ni-kon-ra de-sa-ka-se-ren-ton nyon-ne? wisdom, that which did sustain our minds with teardrops falling as you came Ni-ya-wen-ko-wa ka-di non-wa o-nen sken-nen-ji Thi-sa-ya-dir-heh-on great thanks that now you have crossed the forest safely Ne-on-ni ken-kagh-ne-ko-nyon ne-dens ah-e-sa-ya-tye, nen-don might have killed you, the water holes Is-sy tye-ya-da-ke-ronh bodies are lying there Ken hen-yon-data-jis-da-yen-hagh-se Ken-de-yogh-nyon-kwa-rak-da They will kindle a fire for the near the thorny bushes egh-ten-yon-da-di-den-ra-nyon there they will console them Ogh-rih-ho-konh-a with the few words a-kwah ka-dy ok sken-nen you will look around calmly Then-de-se-wen-ni-ne-ken-ne den-de-wa-de-te-nongh-whe-ra-don once more breathe peacefully speaking out calmly Nyon kogh de O-kagh-se-ry passed his hand through his tears O-nen en-yonts-da-renh ne yetsi-ya-de’-reh! dreadful that it should happen to one O-nen non-wa Ka-thongh-non-weh that-kongh-kogh-dagh-kwa-nyon even now I may fail going thru the ceremony Ne-kenh Ka-ren-ya kegh-ron-donh-ah Where submerged bushes tremble Ken-den-yet-hi-ren-tyon-ni-deh ne kan-hogh-dak-deh De-wagh-sa-da-yengh-ah we will place it on the wall of the house where the shadow falls na-ko-ni-kon-rah shaken in mind Ne we-de-wen-na-ke-ragh-da-nyon the rites we have performed O-nok-na en-je-ye-wen-da-neh they will console them Ne yen-jont-ha-hi-da ne ka-ya-ne-renh-ko-wah. gone to prepare a seat for you


November 10th, 2014

IMG_2135 IMG_2140 IMG_2142 IMG_2143 IMG_2144

Greg – these are the photos I took recently at the old Hamilton Sanatorium, the Mohawk bus, the pine woods with traces of paths, benches and gardens. The Sanatorium has been torn down since I took these pictures. I grew up near here, on a street between Mohawk Road and Sanatorium Road. My mom worked as nurse in training at the Sanatorium in the 1950s.

Many Inuit were brought to this site for TB treatment and it was also a treatment centre for patients from Six Nations. A place of healing that many never left.


November 18th, 2014

I see it…moving further to more sophistication. The double entendre will become more sophisticated, will appeal to more [levels of meaning], there’ll be more metaphors, there’ll be more anachronisms. All those kinds of things will come into play even more so visually, plus [there will be] the creation of new ones…New things are being created, new mages are coming on stream. New levels of consciousness are being appealed to, both by the artist and by the audience. You have to come in on those terms. – Carl Beam

Trickster Shift, The: Humour and Irony in Contemporary Native Art Hardcover – May 24 1999
by Allan J Ryan (Author) page 283.


November 18th, 2014

six nations of the grand river territorysngrt


November 20th, 2014

IMG_2306 IMG_2307 IMG_2308 IMG_2309 IMG_2310


I was able to visit the Chedoke TB hospital again, the building has been demolished but the pine woods remain. A site for us to visit together soon. I will read the section of the Condolence Ceremony you shared concerning the meeting at the Edge of the Woods.



December 9th, 2014

maple-Lot 24-5, Concession 3, Tusc. Twp.

Bibliography of Reference for Research Project

Antone, Eileen (1997). In Search of Voice: A Collaborative Investigation on Learning Experiences of all Onyota’a:ka. Toronto: Unpublished Thesis – University of Toronto.

Battock Gregory, 1968. Minimal Art: a Critical Anthology/ edited by Gregory Battock.

Barreiro, Jose and Carol Cornelius, eds. 1988. Knowledge of the Elders—the Iroquois Condolence Cane Tradition. Northeast Indian Quarterly, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

Beauchamp, William M. 1907. Civil, Religious and Mourning Councils of the New York Indians. New York State Museum Bulletin 113: 341-451.

Buck, Sadie L. 1988. From Pottery to Tupperware. Pottery Workshop ’82, Woodland Indian Cultural – Educational Centre, Museum Education Tour Program Extension.

Deitz, Steve, Steina: 1979-2000, 2008. Site Sante Fe.

Doxtator, Deborah. 2001. “Inclusive and Exclusive Perceptions of Difference: Native and Euro-Based Concepts of Time, History, and Change,” in Germaine Warkentin and Carolyn Podruchny, eds.

Elavia, Firoza, Cinematic Folds: the furling and unfurling of images, Pleasure Dome, 2008, 300 pages.

Feldman, Hans Peter, Interarchive Hans-Peter Feldman: Archival Practices and Sites in the Contemporary Field of Art , Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig (July 2002), ISBN-10: 3883755400, 640 pages

Foster, Hal. 1996, The Return of the Real. MIT Press Cambridge Massachusetts.

Foster, Michael K., et al. 1984. Extending the Rafters, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Iroquoian Studies. Albany, N.Y.: SUNY Press.

Jones, Caroline A. Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, The MIT Press; 1st MIT Press Ed edition (October 1, 2006), ISBN-10: 0262101173, 268 pages

Krauss, Rosalind E., 1977, Passages in Modern Sculpture, The MIT Press Cambridge Massachusetts

Kurath, Gertrube Prokosch, 1968. Dance and Song Rituals of Six Nations Reserve, Ontario. National Museum of Canada, Bulletin 220.

Handke, Peter, 1969. Kaspar and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York.

Huppauf and Wulf, 2009. Dynamics and Performativity of Imagination: The Image between the Visible and the Invisible./ edited by Bernd Huppauf and Christoph Wulf, Routledge.

Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. by Jacques-Alain Miller, transl. by Alan Sheridan, W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 1977.

Lacan, Jacques Wilden, Anthony The Language of the Self: The Function of Language in Psychoanalysis, The Johns Hopkins University Press (December 17, 1997) ISBN-10: 0801858178, 368 pages

Mohawk, John, 2010. Thing in Indian: a John Mohawk reader/ edited by Jose Barreiro

Ranciere, Jacques. 2001, The Aesthetic Unconscious. Polity Press this edition 2009.

Shimony, Annemarie A. 1961. Conservatism among the Iroquois at the Six Nations Reserve. Yale University Publications in Anthropology 65. New Haven, Conn.

Speilmann, Yvonne, 2008. Video: the Reflexive Medium, MIT Press. Cambridge Massachusetts

Strickland, Edward,1993. Minimalism: Origins, Indiana University Press.

Sutton, Damien, 2009, Photography, Cinema, Memory: The Crystal Image of Time, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis

Thomas, Jacob. 1975. Reading the Condolence Cane. Typed manuscript 2pp. Brantford, Ontario: Woodland Indian Cultural Educational Centre.

Thomas, Jacob E. 1994. Great Law 1994 Video. 24 audio cassette recordings. Wilsonville, Ontario: Sandpiper Press. (Note: artist was present during 1 week presentation on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory).

Williams, Ted, 2007. Big Medicine from Six Nations, Syracuse University Press.

Woodbury, Hanni. 1992. Concerning the League: The Iroquois League Tradition as Dictated in Onondaga by John Arthur Gibson, Newly elicited, edited and translated by Hanni Woodbury in Collaboration with Reg Henry and Harry Webster on the Basis of A. A. Goldenweiser’s Manuscript. Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics Memoir 9. Winnipeg.

van den Branden Lambrecht, Christian J. Vision Models and Applications to Image and Video Processing, Springer US (February 19, 2010).