October 13, 2014 - December 5, 2014
Greg Staats is a Toronto artist who works in photography, performance, video installation, and sculpture. His current work is engaged in an ongoing process of reconnecting with a traditional Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) restorative aesthetic. This aesthetic, related to condolence ceremonies occurring after the death of a community member or titleholder, relies on the shared repetitive experience of trauma and renewal. Staats’ practice uses language, mnemonics, and the natural world to reconnect with this cultural history.
As artist-in-residence Staats researched the Art Gallery of Ontario’s processes and methods of knowledge through examining its archives, libraries, collections, and conservation techniques. These institutional knowledge structures will be compared to the Haudenosaunee ways of knowing and learning which inform community strategies for memory, health, and mental wellbeing. The juxtaposition of these disparate processes of knowing and remembering will inform new video and photographic works, as well as an online conversation that makes visible this research and residency period.
During his residency Staats worked with Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, to create an online digital archive. This project chronicled the progress of Staats’ work with the Haudenosaunee restorative aesthetic. Staats digitized his family archive of photographs, documents, and heirlooms. These will be uploaded along with other cultural, historic, and contemporary images, which will inform a discussion between the artist and the curator, and beyond to engage our visitors both on site and online via the blog, A conversation between Artist and Curator.
On October 14, to mark the beginning of Staats' residency, the AGO hosted a public talk entitled Constantly thinking about this: a reflection of Haudenosaunee worldview, mnemonic continuum, and the retention of knowledge. Dr. Jolene Rickard, Rick W. Hill Sr., and Staats will discuss the power of reflection, Staats’ recent visual language, the multiplicity of relationships to trauma and renewal, and life experiences. With introduction by AGO Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Andrew Hunter. For more information please click here.
Born in Ohsweken, Ontario and now living in Toronto, Staats is Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) of the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Staats has received the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography and his work has been exhibited throughout North America. He has also served as faculty for two Aboriginal visual arts Thematic Residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts. The Artist wishes to acknowledge the generous financial support of The Banff Centre during a thematic residency program, The Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario and the Canada Council for the Arts/ Conseil des arts du Canada.