Photo: Meky Ottawa
Meky Ottawa, “Spirit Ghost”, 2018
Since the central Library of Montreal no longer exists, it is rather rare that the public has reasons to go in the building now referred to as the Gaston-Miron and occupied in major part by the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM). A noble project support for artists of aboriginal communities gives one of those rare occasions.
There is no real exhibition hall in the building of the beaux-arts style, with its remarkable facade full of columns. It is in the mezzanine overlooking the central hall that takes place in the first expo after the project Resurgence, a residence of creation and dissemination put in place by the House Photo Montreal, in collaboration with several partners, including the CAM.
The honour of inaugurating this program is intended for Aboriginal people practicing photography returns to Meky Ottawa. For the artist, attikamek, unknown until now, is sort of the best springboards.
Between a social portrait and staging, Meky Ottawa lance through his photographs a cry of affirmation to the top color. Eight images, tinted with pink and dramatic lighting, are populated with singular characters, all female.
This sequel narrative full of allegories that explore the representations of femininity, between the madonna and the subject to be naked. Summary of references to art history and popular history, the series stands as a bulwark to the shots. If the theme of violence against women is common among indigenous artists who deal with the female body, as in the case of Rebecca Belmore, the approach in Meky Ottawa is without or fantasy or humour.
Of the queen to the hanging
The series begins and ends, as exposed in the edifice Gaston-Miron, by two compositions inspired by the world of leisure. The work, entitled 13 is a reproduction of a queen and her mirror image, a mirror, such as is found in a deck of 52 cards. The lady is not here associated with any kind, with any of the brands usual — no spades, no heart. Note, however, the diversion feminist : the thirteenth card is usually that of the king…
On the other side of the hall, The hanging ends the cycle. Meky Ottawa has feminized figure of the tarot deck, classic piece related to the sense of helplessness and spiritual enrichment. This hanging clamp, however, more significantly the reversal of perspective that included the tarot. The artist has left out of the frame, the feet bound, contrary to the tradition, and thus allows to put in value the head, its movement and the possible action.
Titled Resurgence as the name of the residence, the entire Meky Ottawa calls for the return in force of those who have long been subjected and ill-treated. Despite the fact that Aboriginal missing and abused is still a reality, the Lady in Pink, Plastic and Bitch and other Spirit Ghost (all of the titles of exhibited works) evoke a new era. Shadows remain, but the female figure is central, critical, of those who rule between a red line and a blue work Cut Here.
Like a Cindy Sherman (for the misappropriation of identity), or Guia Besana cited in the text of presentation — photographer Italian in the chronic social footprint of lucid dreaming, the sense of beauty at Meky Ottawa has a high critical load.
More than one hundred years after the time when a white man (William Notman, for example) could use his photo studio to define and describe the aboriginal reality in Canada, the studio work of this newcomer retaliates with a good slap. Photos of Ottawa, free of decorations, bare walls, and printed on vinyl, with no frame, express the voice of the margin.
Not from the point of view of an elite here, not in an authoritarian manner of telling a story. The context of fine arts from the edifice Gaston-Miron, which could appear as a funny choice to expose such a Resurgence. Yet it is the brutal dissonance that gives him credit. Meky Ottawa could very well expose its images in the street, as a display of the wild. The prestige of the mezzanine that he was offered, a place that is not a commercial gallery, however, stresses the seriousness of the approach.
Of Meky Ottawa. At the Maison du Conseil des arts de Montréal, 1210 rue Sherbrooke est, until 1 march.