A major focus of my artistic practice has been envisioning Indigenous people in the future. My contribution to local, national and international discourses is to provide stories and imagery of who we are and who we might become, how we will share our territories, what we will reclaim, and what we will contribute to our society.
Since 1996 I’ve used New Media, including HTML, machinima, and more, to make my work. With their inherent promise of a better world and their constant need to be updated, these new technologies remain an excellent metaphor for an ever-moving horizon: the not-too-distant future. Through projects such as CyberPowWow, Thanksgiving Address, Imagining Indians in the 25th Century, 80 Minutes, 80 Movies, 80s Music and TimeTraveller™, I have explored past, present, and future.
I am largely self-taught (in other words, I’ve read a lot of manuals), but I’ve received a lot of patient help along the way. Mentoring—sharing one’s knowledge and resources—is a type of slow-motion activism, and, as such, it is an important part of my practice. As co-founder and co-director of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, a research network based at Hexagram-Concordia, I work with other artists on their own projects, or invite them to work on mine. In the process, both our skills and our communities are strengthened.
Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change. Her pioneering new media projects have been widely presented across Turtle Island in major exhibitions such as Now? NOW! at Denver’s Biennial of the Americas; and Looking Forward (L’Avenir) at the Montreal Biennale. She has been honored to win imagineNative’s 2009 Best New Media Award as well as a 2011 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Her work in is included in both public and private collections.
Born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Skawennati graduated with a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she is based. She is Co-Director, with Jason E. Lewis, of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, creating and critiquing Indigenous virtual environments. This year they launched IIF, the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.
[skawennati's photo credit: Roger Lemoyne]