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Marianne Nicolson: The Way In Which It Was Given to Us

Learn about Indigenous lands in this created animation with sound.

Referencing the pictograph as a way of recording stories on the land, Marianne Nicolson’s animation for UrbanScreen speaks to the seizure of Indigenous lands.

Nicolson has explored the pictograph in previous works, including in her early large scale mural Cliff Painting (1998) and more recently in her banner project Inquiry to the Newcomers (2017). The originating images for the latter work are based on a real pictograph that exists at the mouth of the Kingcome River in coastal BC, home of the Dzawada̱'enux̱w People, and depicts original contact with trade ships in 1792. Other Nations local to Surrey share histories of contact, reserve commissions, and processes of dispossession. The artist’s UrbanScreen work is informed by this as well as research into Kwantlen and Semiahmoo pictographs. Nicolson’s work celebrates the re-emergence of Indigenous Peoples’ voices while articulating that there can be no true reconciliation between Indigenous and settler societies without an acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ displacement from their lands.

This exhibition is presented as part of New Forms Festival put on by the nonprofit society and media arts organization New Forms Media Society.

The Way In Which It Was Given to Us is accompanied by an essay by Siku Allooloo, as part of the Surrey Art Gallery Presents series. Allooloo is a writer who is Inuit/Taino from Denendeh (Northwest Territories). Her work incorporates inherited legacies of resistance, continuity, and creative expression to support the revitalization and empowerment of Indigenous communities.

Documentation of The Way In Which It Was Given to Us during installation tests at UrbanScreen. Sound added during post-production. Videography courtesy of Brian Giebelhaus, sound courtesy of Siku Allooloo. Artwork by Marianne Nicolson.

About the Artist

Marianne Nicolson (‘Tayagila’ogwa) is an artist of Scottish and Dzawada̱’enux̱w First Nations descent. The Dzwada̱’enux̱w People are a member tribe of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw Nations of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Her training encompasses both traditional Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw forms and culture and Western European-based art practice. She has completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (1996), a Masters in Fine Arts (1999), a Masters in Linguistics and Anthropology (2005), and a PhD in Linguistics and Anthropology (2013) at the University of Victoria. She has exhibited her artwork locally, nationally, and internationally as a painter, photographer, and installation artist; has written and published numerous essays and articles; and has participated in multiple speaking engagements. Her practice engages with issues of Aboriginal histories and politics arising from a passionate involvement in cultural revitalization and sustainability.

Marianne Nicolson discusses her work in the exhibition To refuse/To wait/To sleep at the Walter C. Koerner Library and outside the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery.

Curator: Alison Rajah
Origin of Exhibition: Surrey Art Gallery

Image credit: Marianne Nicolson, The Way In Which It Was Given to Us, 2017. Photo by Brian Giebelhaus.