The Vancouver premiere of Mohawk artist Alan Michelson’s immersive, four-channel video installation,TwoRow II (2005), is taking place at the UBC Museum of Anthropology this winter. This acclaimed work is on loan to MOA from the National Gallery of Canada.
TwoRow II leads viewers in opposite directions along the two banks of the Grand River that divides the Six Nations Reserve from settler townships in Ontario. Competing and colliding soundtracks underscore the tensions between these two sides through voice-overs and stories about the river from the perspectives of Six Nations residents and a non-Native tour-boat captain. Evoking the river as a metaphor for contact and co-existence, Michelson merges two contrasting cultural traditions: Euro-American tourist panoramas and Aboriginal wampum belts.
Here, in the work’s purple-tinted projections, the artist references the historic Two Row Wampum, said to embody a 17th-century agreement between the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the Dutch. The belt’s parallel rows of purple and white beads symbolized the course of two vessels on a river, and the customs and laws of each group that were to remain parallel and inviolate.
TwoRow II by Alan Michelson
January 15, 2013 – March 24, 2013
Karen Duffek, Curator, Contemporary Visual Arts & Pacific Northwest.