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Kimowan Metchewais’s Search for Visual Sovereignty

Published on 29 November 2020 at 12:59

For the 2002 installation Without Ground, the Cree artist Kimowan Metchewais transferred dozens of small photographic self-portraits to the white walls of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania. The full length likenesses were posed in the ICA’s Ramp Space as if they were searching the empty expanse for something hidden from both artist and viewer. By cleverly using scale and gently fading some of the photo transfers, Metchewais, who at the time went by his stepfather’s surname, McLain, created the illusion of figures receding into space. Treating the walls of the museum as the “ribcage of a living animal,” he felt that his photographs were like “tattoos etched onto the bones of the beast,” anticipating their burial within the institution’s architectural memory...


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