See Monsters: Indigenous art and history explored through new media

Listening On. Waking Terrain. | Photo courtesy of Bracken Hanuse

Bracken Hanuse Corlett, a live-visual artist, will be performing an audio-visual work with his cousin, DJ and producer Dean Hunt. As part of FUSE 2167, they will perform among a number of other performers. Live music will be hosted by the Vancouver Art Gallery on June 30 to launch the Gallery 150 years into the future.

See Monsters, the audio-visual duo – a live-collage of Bass music, moving light and transformative spaces – is a ‘peace treaty’ that will not be part of the Eve of Canada Day celebrations due to the colonial history of Canada.

The statement of See Monsters reads, “Our ceremonial songs and dances were considered illegal for 66 of those 150 years under the potlatch ban. We were not recognized as human beings until 1972 (Drybones). The layers of government and bureaucracy continue to push pipelines and other detrimental projects onto the land. The list is long for why we do not take part. On the evening before the big party we will take our positions and practice our art as our ancestors have done since time immemorial.”

Corlett is an interdisciplinary artist who fuses painting and drawing with digital media, audio-visual performance, writing, painting, sculpture, drawing, animation and narrative.

“I’ve always been interested in mixing media and crossing disciplines,” says Corlett. “Working like this keeps things fresh in the process. The Wuikila word wuulhu means ‘to fuse things together,’ and I use this word to guide me in connecting work across platforms.”

Hunt, who will be in charge of the audio for See Monsters, has been a DJ who has explored Northwest Coast Bass music for over 15 years. He also works within the Heiltsuk traditions of painting and carving at his studio in Sechelt, B.C.

Healing and reconnecting

Corlett’s work combines traditional Indigenous iconography and history with new media.

“I began making art that incorporated the iconography of my ancestors as form of healing and reconnecting,” Corlett explains. “Due to tragic circumstances, I wasn’t able to grow up in either of my home territories. In many ways making art is still a healing tool, and I am grateful to be able to practice it every day.”

Corlett has mixed Coast Salish ancestry from the Klahoose Nation (grandmother’s side) and Wuikinuxv and Kwakwaka’wakw from his grandfather’s side. He grew up on the Sunshine Coast and moved to Vancouver at age 18. In his early 20s, Corlett attended the En’owkin Centre of Indigenous Art in Penticton, B.C. He then graduated from Emily Carr University of Art and Design with a B.F.A in Visual Arts. Corlett also trained in Northwest Coast art, carving and design.

Hoping to touch audiences

Visual artist Bracken Hanuse Corlett. | Photo courtesy of Bracken Hanuse

When asked what Corlett would want people to get out of his artwork, Corlett answered that he would enjoy his viewers to have an experience ‘that moves them’ by either making them sad, happy or angry.

“The worst reaction would be boredom,” he says.

Some of Corlett’s exhibitions, performances and screenings have been at the Grunt Gallery, Vancouver International Film Festival, Urban Shaman, Mackenzie Art Gallery and Toronto International Film Festival. Corlett also received grants from B.C. Arts and Canada Council.

“I am grateful for each one as they have given me time to create and explore new processes,” he says.

In 2014, Corlett received the B.C. Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art.

“At the time I felt undeserving of it and was humbled to be chosen alongside the other accomplished Indigenous artists selected,” he says.

Corlett’s current work, titled Listening On. Waking Terrain, reflects a relationship that his ancestors carried for the ‘unceded land, sacred sites, complex river and stream systems, hunting and cultivated gathering grounds.’ Corlett acknowledges the history and present of Vancouver with his artwork.

Bracken HanuseCorlett will also be painting a mural on the side of Gene Coffee Bar located at 2404 Main Street as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival in August.

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