Humour as Medicine presents the work of contemporary Indigenous artists Sonny Assu (Ligwiłda’xw), Lori Blondeau (Cree/Salteaux/Metis), and Hjalmer Wenstob (Nuu-chah-nulth) in an exhibition that exemplifies how humour can be a powerful coping mechanism for trauma and emotional distress. Underpinning the show is the goal to explore humour as a tool for healing, activism, and open communication.
The ability to laugh at the pain and devastation inflicted by colonial and racist attitudes has been a necessary coping mechanism in Indigenous communities the world over. The powerful impact of humour can be a cathartic release and a finely honed tool used to dispense truth.
Within the exhibition, the artworks chosen are infused with humour in a range of tones and shades. By employing contemporary materials in traditional form, inverting standards of whiteness, and appropriating Indigenous stereotypes to demonstrate their absurdity and one-dimensionality, Sonny Assu, Lori Blondeau, and Hjalmer Wenstob demonstrate a breadth of approaches across their artistic output and prove the effectiveness of humour in opening difficult subjects, creating space for dialogue, and restoring power to the storyteller.
These three artists approach traumatic histories and the perseverance of status quo policies and perspectives voicing important truths about the false friend colonial authority.
The work of these artists is inextricably linked to Indigenous politics, and speaks frankly and unabashedly about personal and collective experiences with colonialism.
The exhibition runs from October 7 to November 27, 2021 in the Main Gallery.