Subsistences • Inniun
A multi-part collaborative and participative project — residency, bivouac-exhibition, medium-lenght film — in the communities of Aguanish, Baie-Johan-Beetz, Ekuanitshit, Havre-Saint-Pierre, Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Natashquan and Nutashkuan and at the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.
Produced by Partners in Art for Repères2017|LandMarks 2017
Curator : Véronique Leblanc
With the collaboration of La Boîte Rouge vif and Parks Canada
Minganie (North Shore region of Quebec)
Production team : Charlotte Lalou Rousseau, research and coordination assistant ; Maxime Girard, filmmaker ; Mirko Sabatini, artisanal objects, technical support and music ; Louise Dupont, logbook ; Léo Harvey-Côté, photographic documentation ; Véronique Leblanc, production assistant and coordination.
Including a workshop prepared in collaboration with La Boîte Rouge vif : Olivier Martel-Bergeron, project manager and facilitator ; Jean-François Vachon, facilitator ; Maxime Girard, filmmaker. With the participation of : Adèle « Maniaten » Bellefleur, Réjean Cormier, Louise Dupont, Chantal Harvey, Edouard Kaltush, Charles Kavanagh, Annick Latreille, Devon-Lee Rich, Lydia Mestokosho-Paradis, Anastasia Nolin « Natah Nuna » and Michel Paquette.
For the event LandMarks 2017, I lived in the Minganie region, on the Quebec North Shore, from August 2016 to July 2017. Taking the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve as my point of departure, I familiarized myself with the territory through the eyes of people I spent time with in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the region. Natives of the area identified as Innu (Indigenous people residing in Ekuanitshit and Nutashkuan), Paspéyas (descendants of original settlers in the town of Paspébiac in the Gaspé), and Cayens or Macaquins (Acadians who came from the Magdalen Islands), whereas people from outside the region are known as “Les Étranges” (the strange or the foreign). These distinctions had been important for many years, due to the isolation of villages; in 1976, however, Highway 138 connected the western part of Minganie to the rest of Quebec, and it was extended farther east twenty years later.
Attentive to the natural elements and phenomena of the territory, I moved from village to village, travelling two hundred kilometres, to develop a conversation with people on the place of nature in their ways of life, at a time when some traditions seemed threatened or “on the way to extinction.” Many practices associated with life “before” had been abandoned or were being transformed into new activities. Some reference points, however, resisted the trend. What has subsisted? How do these “subsistences” fulfill a common human need? Taking the attitude of a gatherer, I harvested images, objects, stories, and observations that describe ways of living in, becoming attached to, and contemplating the territory.
From May 29 to June 17, 2017, the project took the form of a bivouac-exhibition that toured the villages of the Minganie region between Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan and Nutashkuan. In parallel with these public events, I conducted performative actions with many elements of this installation. All of this work resulted in the production of a medium-length film in s a with Maxime Girard, filmmaker-collaborator of La Boîte Rouge Vif.
The bivouac-exhibition was composed of a traditional Innu tent and stove made by members of Ekuanitshit’s community, an old clinker-built boat borrowed from a resident of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan and a pick-up and trailer belonging to Baie-Johan-Beetz residents. I also carted around a collection of trash gathered from the shores of the Mingan Archipelago: outdated fishing items recovered from Pêcheries Shipek, vestiges of daily subsistence (orange peels, salmon skins, flour bags), and natural debris from the coast (driftwood, stones, whale vertebrae). Functional elements, such as blankets and carrying bags, and symbolic objects were made by the region’s artisans. Finally, the words spoken by the people encountered during the year circulated through the bivouac in audio and print forms.
Many people were involved in the Innu tent installation and food preparation in each village. Visitors were invited to contribute to this collective baggage by bringing an object, photograph, or anecdote that embodied their relationship with the territory (the coast, the interior, the archipelago, the sea). These contributions, whether they were shared, lent, or given, were documented during the stopovers. Participants in each locality also took part in an artistic canning activity. In a can prepared for someone in another village were sealed a composition of fragments from the installation. The stopovers often brought people together for a dinner or snack with a local flavour (goose, bannock, crab, eider duck, scones, baked-apple tarts).