Caroline Monnet, "Echoes From A Near Future" © the artist
Mobilize, 3 min, 2015
Guided expertly by those who live on the land and driven by the pulse of the natural world, Mobilize takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south. Over every landscape, in all conditions, everyday life flows with strength, skill, and extreme competence. Hands swiftly thread sinew through snowshoes. Axes expertly peel birch bark to make a canoe. A master paddler navigates icy white waters. In the city, Mohawk ironworkers stroll across steel girders, almost touching the sky, and a young woman asserts her place among the towers. The fearless polar punk rhythms of Tanya Tagaq’s “Uja” underscore the perpetual negotiation between the modern and traditional by a people always moving forward. – NFB
Ceremonial, 3 min, 2018
Given the importance and abundance of ceremonial practices to most Indigenous communities, there is an inevitable curiosity from the outside world to “know” or “see” how these sacred rituals play themselves out. But can anything remain sacred and private in a world that demands immediacy and a projected image of what sells unscrupulously as the truth? Can Indigenous communities practice their cultural beliefs without the fear of a camera trying to capture the ceremony?
Often, this quest for forbidden knowledge speaks to ravenous cultural consumerism and a lack of guidance from a non-Indigenous standpoint. The narrative is built on a collage of original 16mm, 8mm, and digital footage pieced together to provide a hypnotic rhythm that draws us inward to remind us that some ritualistic practices are confidential and belong exclusively to the communities who perform them.
Monnet’s entire career has been about bridging disparate identities. Her installations merge modern art with Indigenous tradition. For her 2017 exhibition Memories We Shouldn’t Speak Of, Monnet made sculptures from hair dripping in tar—a nod towards the tar sands and Indigenous beliefs that hair holds onto memories. Her short films often feature Indigenous people going on a journey of some kind, reaching back into their heritage in modern times or connecting their history with their future.
For Monnet, whose father is French and mother is from Kitigan Zibi, these are expressions of the space she occupies, and a reclamation, finding a sense of pride in her identity and heritage. Even Bootlegger, which is the first feature to be shot in Kitigan Zibi, was an opportunity to connect with the distant cousins and community she only visited during family occasions and powwows.
“It was really, really important for me to spend time there,” says Monnet. “To work with the community, for them to get to know me better, for me to know them better.” – Radheyan Simonpillai
Read the full article about Caroline Monnet’s practice in NOW Magazine.
Watch an interview with Caroline Monnet at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Visit Caroline Monnet’s website to learn more about her work.