"Potato Gardens Band"
Video (23'), 2018.
With novel musicality, Krista Belle Stewart’s ongoing project “Potato Gardens Band” has evoked critical questions regarding the nature of cultural ownership, archives, and historical truths. Each of the project’s three iterations in this series have incorporated a 1918 recording of Stewart’s great-grandmother singing and playing jaw harp and tin whistle with her elder female musicians group called the Potato Gardens Band. The anthropologist James Alexander Teit preserved this cultural heritage of the Nselxcin Nation on wax cylinders. Over consecutive iterations, Stewart and her collaborators have widened the scope of the complex ancestral dialogue enabled by those recordings. In the latest iteration, which was performed on site for family members and broadcast over a distance for gallery goers, she projected the recording of her great-grandmother's voice through over her ancestors’ territory within the Upper Nicola Band in British Columbia, Canada, expressing kinship between individual and ancestral pasts, and temporarily reclaiming a space for these within the dominant colonial narratives. The piece has thus become a fluctuating incantation of intersecting personal, familial, and cultural memories.
Krista Belle Stewart is an artist and member of the Syilx Nation, currently based between Berlin, and Spaxomin, Syilx Territory. Stewart works with video, land, performance, photography, textiles, and sound, drawing out personal and political narratives inherent in archival materials while questioning their articulation in institutional histories.