May 16 – July 14, 2024
Opening: May 16, 5:30 – 8 p.m.
Creation Stories: Turtle Island: Joanna Katrena Cooper, Shoshanna Greene, Shelley Niro, Jobena Petonoquot, Percy Sacobie, Skawennati, Maura Tamez
Curators: Lori Beavis, Emma Hassencahl-Perley, Jake Kimble, Teresa Vander Meer-Chassé
The Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA), 7th edition
La Guilde
Montreal, QC

The curators for the 7th edition of BACA came together across Nations and territories to create a series of exhibitions with works by more than 60 artists. Each of the seven exhibition sites for the overarching one of Creation Stories. At La Guilde, our thematic is Turtle Island.

The artists in this exhibition tell the story of Turtle Island, known in many Indigenous cultures as a synonym for “North America.” It is the name used in Anishinaabe oral storytelling that says the land was formed on the back of a turtle floating on top of the water covering our entire planet. Integral to the story is Sky Woman, a pregnant being who descends from the Sky World, giving birth to life as we know it. She lands on the back of the turtle and asks various water animals to fetch a bit of dirt from the bottom of the ocean to place on the back of the turtle, transforming the shell into this continent.

The artists featured in Turtle Island use beadwork, painting, video and sculpture to expand on the Anishinabeg Creation Story and the beginnings of life on Earth. They breathe new life into history, exploring themes of origin and renewal. Sky Woman, the turtle, and water serve as potent symbols of vitality and connection to the natural world.

The Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (BACA) would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Quebec government (Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Fonds d’investissement pour le rayonnement de la Métropole, Secrétariat des affaires Autochtones), the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, its presentation partners and its media partners.

Launched in 2012, the Contemporary Native Art Biennial (BACA) is a Montreal-based non-profit organization (registered in 2016) that promotes the work of Indigenous artists. The biennial is held every two years, in multiple venues, with each iteration focusing on a specific theme. The event is aimed at an ever-growing audience—Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike—and features both emerging and established artists. Our mission is to promote Indigenous art and to sensitize and educate the public on the cultural issues of the First Nations.