Main Space

November 11 - December 17, 2022

these marks on land
Megan Musseau

Exhibition Dates: November 11, 2022 - December 17, 2022

Opening Reception: November 11, 2022 from 7 PM - 10 PM

Meagan Musseau’s performance series centers on braiding as a creative offering to land, water, and spirit. Meagan braids multiple yards of neon flagging tape as a way to explore themes of material access, adaptation, and continuation. The Interrelation series was created on Ktaqmkuk, Wolastokuk, and Treaty 7 territory through collaboration with song-carriers from each region. These include Interrelation: Ekpahak with Glenn Bernard (2018), Interrelation: Mohkinstsis with Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand (2019), and Interrelation: Maqtukwek with Jenelle Duval (2020). 

these marks on land interweaves three land-based performances into a sculptural media installation. The exhibition is an offering that explores the ways an ephemeral action can transform into memory and story. Viewers are invited to experience a space of storytelling through materials objects, audio installation, and video projection. 

Meagan Musseau [Mazoo] is a Mi’kmaw woman, artist, and dancer from Elmastukwek, Ktaqmkuk territory (Bay of Islands, western Newfoundland). Meagan nourishes an interdisciplinary arts practice by working with customary art forms and new media, such as basketry, beadwork, land-based performance, video and installation. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Sobey Art Award, longlist (2021); the Atlantic Canadian Emerging Artist, Hnatyshyn Foundation (2018); Emerging Artist Award, VANL-CARFAC (2018); Aboriginal Arts Development Award, First Peoples’ Cultural Council (2016). Meagan’s work exhibits nationally and internationally.

Exibition Text
Written by Emma Hassencahl-Pelley

What marks the land? The land is marked by the moments and the memory that the artist is making. The land is marked by the artist(s) footprints on the ground. The land is marked by neon braids floating in the wind. The land is marked by the breath of the singing voice. The land is marked by the people who gather to witness the art being made. The land is marked by the river flowing. The land is marked temporarily . . . and left the way she is found. 

Megan Musseau's Interrelation series is a land-based endurance performance where the artist braids seven metres of flagging tape in situ at Ekpahak (NB), Mohkinstsís (AB) and Maqtukwek (NFLD). The performances feature a musical collaboration from singers that reside in each territory. 

I was present for the first instalment of Interrelation: Ekpahak (2018). Ekpahak means "place where the tide stops coming in/ends"; it is an island located just a few miles upriver from downtown Fredericton on unceded Wolastoqey territory. I met Musseau for the first time when she was in town for an artist residency, “Should I wear my ribbon skirt for the [Interrelation: Ekpahak] performance tomorrow night?” she said; "Why not?" I agreed. 

The artist’s skirt became a recurring component of the Interrelation series. Ribbon skirts, in some circles, offer a symbolic (but meaningful) connection to the ground beneath our feet. They are a prayer extended to the floor. 

On the night of the performance, viewers met at the designated site adjacent to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery on the green park space. Musseau wrapped purple flagging tape around a large willow tree just off the bank of the Wolastoq (the river). The artist began weaving the braid as Wolastoqey drum group member, and collaborator Glenn Bernard of the Muskrat Singers sang and drummed for the duration of the performance. I watched nearby as the artist braided from sunset to twilight, periodically pausing to untangle the strands. 

The moments created in the Interrelation series are transformed into a complete visual experience within the gallery as Musseau's performances become an installation for these marks on land.

Inside the gallery, neon purple, yellow, and pink braids from each performance rest upon three handmade raw wood plinths by Mi’kmaq woodworker Mariah Young. They were designed this way, as each iteration of Interrelation that is conducted concerns a significant body of water at each location. The wood is cut to mirror the ebbs and flow of a river. The waves of the wood grain speak to water as a life source and how we are interconnected with other living beings. 

The collaborators' songs play over speakers in the gallery, one voice following the next on a continuous loop – sharing the space in music. In Interrelation: Ekpahak, Glenn Bernard expresses gratitude for the Wolastoq river when he sings, "Wəlasweltəmohtine ciw Wolastoq (Let us give thanks for the river)." Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand for Interrelation: Mohkinstsís (2019) sings a clan song about a small, quiet rabbit sneaking up on his enemies. Jenelle Duval sings a story of people traveling upriver while ancestors mirror their path for Interrelation: Maqtukwek (2020). 

A gestural video capturing the artist braiding flagging tape plays on an adjacent wall. The flagging tape symbolizes sweet grass, which thanks the ancestors and invites positive spirits into a space. The act of braiding alludes to Indigenous women's cultural and creative production fueled by prayers. 

I have learned that gratitude is a gift. The artist expresses gratitude for the places she has the opportunity to perform and the people she meets during her visits. The work serves as a creative offering in exchange for their hospitality. Reciprocity – giving and accepting – through labour, love, and song means being part of a mutual relationship with the land and the people who call that place home. These places nurture the artist; in return, she shares her gifts through artistic creation.

Emma Hassencahl-Pelley is wolastoqewisqehs (woman of the beautiful, bountiful Wolastoq river) from Neqotkuk (where the two rivers flow beneath each other), otherwise known as Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick. Emma is a visual artist, curator, educator, and art criticism essayist. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from Mount Allison University (‘17) and a Masters of Art in Art History (‘22) form Concordia University.


Artistic collaborators: Glenn Bernard, Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand, Jenelle Duval

Project management: IOTA Studios

Production: Mazook Studio

Woodworking: Mariah Young

Documentation: Nicole Kelly Westman, Candace Kennedy, Dru Kennedy

Project funding: Canada Council for the Arts

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