In Conversation: Maria-Margaretta
“Resistance in the front yard with spitz, cigs, and coffee” by Maria-Margaretta posits the front yard as a site of great cultural significance. Margaretta asks whether the front yard, as an everyday space instilled with lived experiences, can be a site of cultural learning and communication. With a quiet humour, her works challenge the colonial systems that house cultural objects in sterile archives, often distant from vital community contexts.
Read on to learn more about the ideas that motivate Margaretta’s artistic practice.
As an artist who incorporates traditional beading into your work, what kinds of things inspire your designs?MM
My designs are inspired by the mundane or the not important—by objects that exist within the domestic sphere, that are influenced and shaped by story and lived experience. I allow the object to communicate its story and then negotiate the existence of that information through the development of a surface, transformed through the act of beading.
You often grapple with materials that are not necessarily suited for beading. For Resistance in the front yard with spitz, cigs, and coffee, this has included AstroTurf, cardboard, and soft plastic. Is this material negotiation exciting for you? Do you feel that you’re exploring what beading can do?MM
When you look at historical Michif cultural objects, they often incorporate many materials and design elements. I see this exploration of unconventional materials as a continuation of this fusion of materials and design techniques, a continuation of a lineage of Michif makers. This pushing up against the expectation of what beading can do is exciting but it is also something that has always been done. So, through this exploration I pay homage to the resourcefulness and materiality of Michif people, to our ability to make do with the materials that are accessible to us and to transform them into something beautiful.
Part of the joy of looking at these sculptures is that, although you transform them with your beading, there’s a sense that they can still exist within the domestic sphere. You recently shared a video on Instagram of you washing dishes wearing your sculpture Go Help Grandma With The Dishes (2020)—an incredible beaded pair of rubber gloves. Is it important to you that your sculptural objects retain some part of their original function?MM
When I imagine these objects beyond the gallery space, I see them as functioning within the familiar. For example, the piece medicine on the front step is a staircase, detached from its original structure but still presented as an everyday staircase. In a gallery space, I don’t think people want to engage with the work as functioning stairs, rather, they see it as an art object. When I encourage people to walk on them or take a seat, they become spots of resting, spots of conversation, or a meeting ground. I like to play with those anxieties around gallery spaces by presenting objects of the everyday as a way to push the art object and create a bridge—or rather a staircase—to these often inaccessible spaces.
In your video work Sacred garden (2021) the camera moves erratically, showing us quick, cropped glimpses of the features of a yard—landscaping bricks, fencing, and flowers. While the video adds a descriptive texture to the exhibition, this limiting of information creates a distance between the viewer and the specific place depicted in the video. What has motivated this choice?MM
The video is fragmented, it acts as a memory, an observation of sites of the everyday. I made the choice to obstruct the visuals and narrative as an act of refusal. Often within institutional spaces, Indigeous stories are consumed by the viewer. Through intentional erratic movements, I offer what is necessary and protect the sacred. This also creates a space of shared re-remembering in which the viewer is able to associate their own lived experience to the visuals.
What is next for you? Any exciting upcoming projects you’d like to share about?MM
I am currently finishing up my final year of grad school at OCADU. So I’ll be focusing on writing my thesis and the creation of my accompanying thesis exhibition.
Maria-Margaretta’s “Resistance in the front yard with spitz, cigs, and coffee” was exhibited at BAF from September 9 to October 23.