JENEEN FREI NJOOTLI SHORTLISTED FOR 2018 SOBEY ART AWARD
Melanie O’Brian on Jeneen Frei Njootli:
Jeneen Frei Njootli’s interdisciplinary practice engages her cultural history and personal experience through performance, sound and installation. Her Gwich’in territory (Old Crow, Yukon) and culture are taken up in her approach to land and social networks, and her work interrogates the histories of her materials, their relationship to trade, ceremony, politics and the body, particularly her own. For example, she has made instruments using caribou bone and antler – animals key to Gwich’in culture and survival – sonifying the materials in performance with contact microphones, which are then played through effects and loop pedals to bring them to life as language. Njootli has written: “As Indigenous peoples, we are tied up in the spectacle of history, not only the Americas, but globally.” Her evolving, self-reflexive artistic methodologies critically expand a cultural understanding of this country, and how this spectacle, along with other histories, marks and shapes bodies and traditions.