This participatory installation consists of 300+ sheets of paper.
Each page has a blind-embossed name of a woman. Each woman has passed away. In these cases, the Canadian authorities have said that they did not involve foul play. This list is only the tip of a much larger and heartbreaking systemic issue affecting Indigenous women in Canada, let alone the epidemic in the rest of North America.
Please take a hands-on approach with this memorial-like work. Take a moment and use the sage ash provided to touch, feel and reveal her name.
Now say her name. Say it aloud and with pride.
Remember, she was someone. She is someone, and she deserves to be known, loved, and remembered.
When our ancestors “leave” or pass on, it is only from one form to another. These women are still here, as a collective sum of our history, our strength, and our knowledge. They stay to teach and watch over us. To help us stay resilient.
Please follow the link to find more information about these women’s stories:
Representations of grief: Is art enough?
By Brandon Giessmann
“Julia Rose Sutherland’s practice is concerned with the impact colonialism has had on her family and the Indigenous community. She uses the body as a primary vessel for understanding this violence, casting herself in sugar that resembles amber and breaks down as it melts and glistens in a beautiful and harrowing decomposition. Her work Gepmite’tq “Paying homage” has audiences interact with white sheets of paper embossed with the names of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls with the text being revealed by smearing sage ash across its surface.
Sutherland’s work uses that camouflage to ask individuals to literally participate in the recognition of these names. For audiences of settler-descent, or who occupy positions of privilege as non-Indigenous people, we are asked to consider our complacency in the continued oppression of Indigenous communities. The ash residue sticks to our fingers, requiring water or a cloth to be removed, and interacts with the ridges of our fingerprints thus denying any anonymity or excuses of innocence. But this realization requires engagement, it needs an audience who is willing to touch the art and who can distinguish the exercise as one of respect and solidarity. The neglect and ignorance Indigenous people meet in spaces that aim to be inclusive and empowering means a piece like Gepmite’tq “Paying homage” relies a lot on privileged people to set aside their pride.
Gepmite’tq “Paying homage” acknowledges Indigenous women and girls who have been killed or abducted and asks audiences to take accountability for the role they have in that harm, to give these strangers a moment of their time and energy. That interaction works to bridge the impersonal gap that is present in discourses around murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls where names and faces are seen and forgotten.”