Canadian Art: Land/Body/Reciprocity (with Lacie Burning)

Featured Image: Untitled Image 2 (Reflection Series), Lacie Burning

It was this fluidity between physical and psychic space within the Haudenosaunee worldview that attracted Burning to working with masks and fabric. In Ojibway ontologies, materialities like masks and fabrics are spiritual objects that bring us closer to the in-between places; they make apparent the spectres that live among us. Because of its proximity with temporal realms, the mask in Reflection Series and Reflection Piece is handled with the utmost care, as if it were sacred, just like our bodies and their covenants with the land. There are even strict protocols around who can handle and share space with the mask.

But the body is a complex place to hold sacred selfhood, especially for those of us who disassociate. Because of trauma. Because imposed colonial genders fit like an itchy wool sweater that is a few sizes too small. Because our lands are constantly in a state of being destroyed. A few weeks after Burning shot Reflection Series, the portion of forest that was its backdrop was cut down, making apparent that colonial affect on our bodies is a twofold process:

1. Colonialism removes Indigenous bodies from the land in order to make way for the destruction of our Mother. When Indigenous relationships to territory are in flux, then so too is our groundedness in the physicality of the aesthetic present.

2. Our bodies are made to feel so foreign to us, so alien, that we must project our spiritual self into otherworldly realms—we must disassociate.

Reflection Series, then, is the haunting of a genderless ghost body, a protest on the lands that taught Burning resistance, and a disruption of the supposedly clear idea of what it means to be an Indigenous person assuredly enacting sovereignty over their lands.

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