Image courtesy of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Photo by Robert McNair.
Bearberry grows close to the ground in lush green patches nestled between shield bedrock. Symbolic of survival, this perennial medicine plant also represents an Anishinaabe fluency of land and an intimate knowledge of place. Medicine plants necessitate tenets of reciprocity where one gives back to the land before taking what one needs. [After the exhibition closes this medicine plant will be planted back in the land.]
Susan Blight’s artwork often exist outside of the gallery walls. By intervening in public spaces, she claims space with Anishinaabemowin and introduces Anishinaabe concepts of being to an incidental audience. We Will Be Heard engages in an important conversation with the other artworks that share its space. In response to the idea that land will hear words and songs, Blight’s text reminds us that our survival depends on listening to all living things, plants included. The reception of sound does not reside in or end at the human ear. Both speaking and listening are reciprocal acts. Although much more subtle, listening contributes to the weight of utterances.
Indigenous people in Canada and across North America have largely been unheard by mainstream society. Their appeals to state authorities to address the violence against Indigenous women, the interpersonal and structural repercussions of residential schooling, and racialized violence have been ignored, despite the apparent crisis. To be heard, singular voices must become an amplified chorus. Un-received words or sounds fail to communicate, create change or build relationships. Transmission without any reception leaves us with soundwaves flowing over and through a material world with no landing place.
- Lisa Myers, 2018