NGV Triennial

Joi T. Arcand
pimiciwan pimatisowin



Joi T. Arcand’s new media installation pimiciwan pimatisowin 2020 marks the first time a Cree contemporary artist has had their work enter the NGV Collection. Featuring a blue neon sign set back into a wall cavity, the work draws attention to the loss of Indigenous languages in Canada by creating a hyper visible sign using Cree syllabics. Arcand uses this approach to declare that the language wasn’t ‘lost’, but was instead taken, and Cree people are now here to reclaim it. The work will resonate powerfully in Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people share a similar history with regard to loss of language and culture by way of colonisation. Sometimes Arcand intentionally does not provide translations for her work so as not to give audiences the immediate satisfaction of understanding the word. Instead, she forces them to take the time to look up the word and learn some Cree language on the way. For NGV Triennial, Arcand has decided to provide a translation of the Cree language used – her neon sign translates roughly to ‘the flow of life’.

Joi T. Arcand is an artist originally from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan. Her practice includes photography, digital collage and graphic design, and is characterised by a visionary and subversive reclamation and indigenisation of public spaces through the use of Cree language and syllabics.

In 2018, Arcand was shortlisted for the prestigious Sobey Art Award. Her work has been shown in group exhibitions such as Àbadakone at the National Gallery of Canada and INSURGENCE/ RESURGENCE at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She has recently held solo exhibitions at Ottawa’s Central Art Garage and Saskatoon’s College Art Galleries. Arcand was artist-in-residence at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre and she has curated various exhibitions including the Ottawa-based presentations Language of Puncture at Gallery 101 and nakateyimisowin, an outdoor mural exhibition.

The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Supporters Dr Michael Schwarz & Dr David Clouston for their support.