“How many images move you?” This question was asked by filmmaker, cultural worker, and community-based video activist Marjorie Beaucage at Sâkêwêwak’s Storytellers Festival and Indigenous Artists’ Symposium which took place in Regina February 23-27, 2016.
Marjorie was speaking about how everyday we are inundated with thousands of images and how very few of them move us to action. Marjorie went on to say (I’m paraphrasing):
“The person who took the picture didn’t let it into their soul. If you let it in, people will feel what you feel, see what you see.”
The Symposium was themed around Education and Activism through Art. I was attending as a panelist to speak on the future of Indigenous art along with the amazingly talented Amanda Strong and Bracken Hanuse Corlett and moderated by David Garneau.
Marjorie’s question stuck with me throughout the Symposium and afterwards as I thought about my practice and the conversations we have on this blog. I thought about the question as both a maker and consumer of images. What images have moved me? Have my images moved others? Is that my goal as an image-maker?
These questions really get to the core of why we, as Indigenous image-makers, do what we do and essentially one of the main goals of this website.
I can talk about the images that move me, that they can change daily as I scroll through Instagram sorting through the mundanity of other people’s lives (I notice I’ve been getting stingier with my ‘likes’). But, the images that I return to again and again are old family photographs, which is probably why they became a central part of my art practice.
When I look through old family photos, I am searching the image for, as Kathleen J. Martin writes, “some source of authentication of the event or even ourselves….It is within the photograph that we hope to find answers to our queries.”1
Will future generations look at photographs of today with the same nostalgia? The number of images we encounter daily has increased exponentially in this era of iPhone photography. Marjorie spoke about the numbing effect this can have on us as image consumers. Some may make you pause and reflect, some may move you to action, but most will pass you by.
What images move you?
1 Martin, Kathleen J. (2013). Native footprints: Photographs and stories written on the land. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp.1-24.