Mi’kmaq Word of the Day 2.0 is the second version of an interactive exhibition that began in Winnipeg during 2010. The project began with Johnson teaching Bennett Mi’qmaw over instant messenger. Now, multidisciplinary Mi’kmaw artists Jordan Bennett and Ursula Johnson are returning home to further explore the learning process over geographic and cultural distance through a visual and audio installation at Eastern Edge Gallery.
On opening night at Eastern Edge, the gallery looked sparse. Most of the walls were blank, but two were primary school-style lined, ready for the artists’ composition to be painted on the wall. On day one, the slightly shaking black printing on the wall was “Kisi’tmoq” which translates to “You (our ancestors) who have”. A recording of Johnson teaching Bennett to pronounce “kisi’tmoq” is looping through two small speakers. Unfortunately, the din bouncing off the concrete from people in the gallery made it hard to hear the recording. Eastern Edge will play a new Mi’qmaw word through the gallery speakers and print that word and its English translation on the wall every day until the end of the exhibit. Hence, the lesson that began between Johnson and Bennett is now transmitting to the gallery and then to its visitors. Eastern Edge will also be hosting a closing reception for the show, where Bennett will be in attendance.
The artists have invited participants to witness the installation’s progress in exchange for donating a non-perishable food to the Native Friendship Circle. This exchange is clearly a good gesture, but it also underscores two important aspects of the exhibit. First, it makes the political dimension of the project explicit; one of its aims is addressing the imbalance of resources that local aboriginals face. Second, asking for donations also makes it clear that this artwork demands action from the viewer, so everyone is involved even before they see the message in full before early April.
Jordan Bennett and Ursula Johnson: Mi’kmaq Word of The Day 2.0 runs from February 25 to April 5 at Eastern Edge Gallery at 72 Harbour Dr. For more information, visit http://easternedge.ca/jordan-bennett-and-ursula-johnson-mikmaq-word-of-the-day-2-0/.