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Exploring Indigenous peoples past, present and future

A collection of Skawennati Fragnito’s ‘machinimagraphs’ hangs at Ellephant, a new exhibition space in Montreal. (Courtesy Christine Redfern)
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Kanien’kehá:ka artist Skawennati Fragnito’s work is front and centre at a new solo exhibition space in the heart of Montreal’s Quartiers des Spectacles.

The exhibition, titled Avs, opened last night at the Ellephant gallery and brings together the largest collection of Fragnitos work of hi-resolution machinimagraphs, which feature avatars from her TimeTraveller™ machinima series and the recent Totems and Technology exhibition in New York City.

“There’s a lot of new stuff for people to look at,” said Fragnito told The Eastern Door.

“I feel really happy because it’s my home town. I’m hoping that the people who have participated in helping make TimeTraveller see it – there’s lots of Kahnawa’kehró:non who have helped make it, especially among the voice talent – if they haven’t had a chance yet,” said Fragnito.

6_Five RosesHer art explores alternative narratives about Indigenous peoples past, present and future.

The TimeTraveller series, which includes nine machinimas produced between 2007 and 2013, follow the story of an angry young Kanien’kehá:ka man who lives in the future.

A machinima is a type of animated film that is produced in a virtual space such as a video game.

02STF2015SheIsDancingWithHerself“In the future, there is a technology that allows him to kind of visit dates of historical importance to Native people. The series gives a Native perspective on these important historical events, but also helps to envision Native people in the future,” said Fragnito.

A number of never-seen-before prints developed from the series are also a part of the exhibition. Fragnito calls them ‘machinimagraphs.’

“Just like in a movie, they take production stills, I wanted to do that too mostly for documentation purposes, but also because it looked really good. I love the idea of having a still image that you can just look at and contemplate,” said Fragnito.

Christine Redfern, the founder and curator at Ellephant, has been following Fragnito’s work since she started the series.

“When I was looking for artists to represent, she came to mind as someone who’s work I admire and was doing work that is completely different, as well,” said Redfern.

“Because it is virtual it looks different for not just Indigenous artists, but Canadian artists. It really has a look that is unique.”

The exhibition will also feature new work that was shown in May as a part of Totems and Technology exhibition at ABC No Rio in New York.

“Despite the title, it was not a show of Native artists. It all different kinds of artists who were using technology in their work,” said Fragnito

The piece, titled [Dancing With Myself ITALICS], is diptych of a machinimagraph and strikingly similar photograph.

Although the TimeTraveller series is complete, Fragnito said she’s not done with making machinimas and machinimagraphs just yet. She’s currently working on the beginning stages of her next two projects.

“I’m writing the Creation Story of the future,” she hinted. “Then, I have another project called Husk that connects cornhusk dolls, Barbie dolls, and avatars.”
‘Avs’ will be open to the public until January 9 at Ellephant (1201 St-Dominique in Montreal). Visiting hours are from Wednesday to Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. or by appointment.

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