Dana Claxton © Andrew Querner
I Want to Know Why, 6.5 min, 1994
The videomaker investigates the women in her family who have succumbed prematurely to external forces of racism and poverty. Using repetition and manipulation of western images of First Nations culture with an at first timid, then demanding voice-over, the video moves through sorrow and indignation with the processes of cultural genocide. – Vtape
The Red Paper, 14 min, 1996
The Red Paper asserts a voice of power and interpretation recounting the devastating consequences of colonialism. The European male wears a straitjacket, repeatedly mumbling “I did not know, I did not know,” in a familiar contemporary mantra that pleads self-proclaimed absolution from guilt by reason of ignorance of history. Claxton irreverently and consciously opts for a lack of historical specificity in favour of a totalizing haunting by history in the present. – Vtape.
Over the past three decades Dana Claxton has become widely known for an expansive, multidisciplinary approach to artmaking that encompasses film, video, photography, and performance that is informed by a remarkable family history and an extraordinarily cosmopolitan range of lived experience. More specifically, her work combines contemporary technologies and aesthetic strategies drawn from disparate idioms—from 1980s music videos to post-conceptual photography—with references to Indigenous cultures, particularly her own Lakota culture, to address the ongoing impact of colonialism on contemporary life while eloquently articulating Indigenous histories, world views, and spirituality. To put it another way, her efforts to make space for the Indigenous subject in the gallery/museum system could be described as “fringing the cube”—an expression that draws upon the practical and metaphysical functions of fringe for the First Peoples of the Great Plains and the performative role Claxton has taken on to create that space. – Grant Arnold
Watch an interview with Dana Claxton at Canada Council for the Arts.
Read The Art of Dana Claxton: A Prologue at the Media Arts Network of Ontario.
All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy Vtape © Dana Claxton. Screening co-presented with Vtape.