Lakota artist Dana Claxton, whose do the job subverts assumptions about Indigenous identity, wins one particular of Canada’s leading artwork prizes

Dana Claxton acquired this year’s Audain Prize, one of Canada’s most coveted arts awards, all through a ceremony on Monday (25 September). The C$100,000 ($74,000) income prize honouring distinguished British Columbia-dependent artists was announced at a luncheon at the Fairmont Resort Vancouver.

When Reid Shier, executive director of the Polygon Gallery in North Vancouver, awarded the prize on behalf of the jury, he praised Claxton’s “multilayered” practice. He described the pictures in her collection and e-book Paris, June Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth, Two Thousand & Six as staying “as considerably [Jack] Kerouac as [Eugène] Atget”—and spoke of her “landmark” operate as a First Nations woman—a team who are “systemically denied a place in the artwork earth.”

Claxton, a Vancouver-dependent artist whose function spans film, pictures, online video and multi-channel installation, is a member of the Wooden Mountain Lakota First Nations situated in Southwest Saskatchewan. Her practice investigates Indigenous magnificence, the entire body, the socio-political and the non secular and has been extensively exhibited throughout Canada and internationally. She is also a professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and head of its office of artwork record, visual artwork and concept.

Dana Claxton, The Mustang Suite: Daddy’s Gotta New Ride, 2008 Courtesy the artist

In a assertion, Claxton observed the Audain Prize’s historical past of acknowledging Very first Nations artists, declaring, “It is a terrific honour to be provided with this team, which features esteemed BC artists like Susan Place, Jim Hart and Robert Davidson, all who have received the Audain Prize.” In a video clip performed at the event, she spoke of the ongoing “criminalisation of Native culture”, indicating that her perform was ultimately about “not dehumanising people”.

A previous receiver of the Governor General’s Award in Visible and Media Arts in 2020, she had a solo survey exhibition, Fringing the Dice, at the Vancouver Artwork Gallery in 2018 and her collection Headdress (2018-19) had its debut at the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Artwork in 2019.

“Besides acquiring an outstanding international name, Ms. Claxton has experienced a substantial influence on younger artists and her UBC art learners,” states Michael Audain, the chairman of the Audain Foundation, who founded the award in 2004.

Dana Claxton, Buffalo Bone China, efficiency at AKA artist-operate centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1997. Courtesy of AKA and the artist.

Claxton is recognized for her movie do the job like 1997’s Buffalo Bone China, evoking the animals’ slaughter for a European luxurious item via mesmeric pixelated loops of phantom buffalo operating as a result of the plains, a white hunter taking pictures them and a indigenous male alternately crying in soreness and caressing good bone china. This perform, like several other individuals by the artist, collapses the historic into the modern day.

Performance artwork is also a pillar of her operate, like 2011’s The Elsewhere—an endeavor to “Indianise space” as a result of the use of gesture, tunes, and pure and gentleman-manufactured objects—which incorporates factors of Lakota ceremony. Her photographic operate, like 2008’s Mustang Suite, employs ironic humour to defy stereotyped imagery of 1st Nations. As Shier put it, her operate performs a “critical reversal” of “who could possibly be wanting at whom”.

In an job interview with The Artwork Newspaper, Claxton cites a assortment of influences such as the multi-disciplinary artist Paul Wong and her expertise in the early 1990s at Vancouver’s Online video Inn media arts centre, to the Vancouver University and photograph-conceptualists like Jeff Wall, Initially Nations filmmaker Loretta Todd, as nicely as her have spouse and children and Lakota traditions.

Dana Claxton, Headdress – Dana, 2019 Courtesy the artist

Vancouver’s simultaneous cultures of “artist-run centres and artist-as-curator” she suggests, as perfectly as its “large indigenous contingency of cultural producers and impression makers”, ended up formative influences. “It feels wonderful to gain this award,” she provides. “It’s an honour, a privilege and a genuine blessing.”

Previous winners of the Audain Prize have bundled the photo-conceptualist Ian Wallace, in 2022 and sculptor James Hart, the hereditary chief of the Eagle Clan of the Haida Nation, in 2021.