L’nuwelti’k at Aboriginal Voice
So the past couple of weeks I, along with the Moncton University Art Gallery and the Law School Library, have been seeking Aboriginal Identifying volunteers to participate in L’nuwelti’k.
And I needed a total of 4 volunteers. So last night we had 3 volunteers in total. But I have 4 empty plinths to fill.
So during the exhibition opening I complete one bust portrait of a “Male 6.1, Qalipu Member, Landless Band”, then my two other volunteers identify themselves and I explain that I would prefer to complete their portraits tomorrow at the law school for the intervention.
And I wander around wishing I had a 4th volunteer so that I do not have to remove the last plinth. We all brainstorm on finding this last one.
Then all of a sudden a little 5 year old boy approaches me, mumbles something and begins to lead me into my exhibition space. I ask him what is happening and he climbs onto the stool, where the volunteers sit for their portraits!
I ask him, “did you want one done as well”, he say, “yes, you have all big people and its not fair to have no little people”, so I seek out his mother and I dare ask the question, “I have a personal question to ask?” Mother replies, “yes?”, “does he have any aboriginal ancestry?”, “she looks me straight in the eye and remarks, “we are status Indian from Gaspegegiaq”.
Magic! I have found my 4th volunteer for the bust portrait to complete the series. Or rather my 4th volunteer has found me!
This is the most amazing part of the evening, and what I love about performance art the most. The magic in live performance art is when something like this happens, completely unexpected, unscripted, not anticipated at all.
The magic that that little 5 year old “Male 6.1, Off-reserve” carried with him was spectacular. He was a champion to have his portrait done as such, and he taught me a very valuable life lesson.
He was completely correct in identifying that “it was not fair to not have little people” exhibited with the big people.
Children are very aware of the cultural, linguistic differences that we all have, and it is especially difficult for children in the public school system who face stereotypes and discrimination from their fellow students. Especially aboriginal children who live in urban centres. And we, as adults, must make sure that children are as much a part of that dialogue where we speak about our perceived differences and to educate them about these differences as we educate ourselves.
Male 6.1, Qalipu Member, Landless Band