self-portrait in alterNation between ascension & descent


self-portrait in alternNation between ascension & descent (clip)
4 min non-linear video loop with audio.
Exhibited playing endlessly on wall-mounted LCD flatscreen,
minimum dimensions 40″ (diagonal), with stereo sound.

You can watch the video clip on its own page here
(but please do’t watch in full-screen mode as the onsite video resolution is low)

Gallery Views:

self portrait in alterNation Esker Foundation - video installation by native Canadian artist Jude Norrisself portrait in alterNation (gallery view, Esker Foundation)


self portrait in alterNation (installation view, Blackwood Gallery)self portrait in alterNation (gallery view, Blackwood Gallery)

  • self-portrait in alterNation between ascension & descent 2010

    (Features a video loop playing continuously on a large LCD screen mounted in a gallery setting). 

    In this altered-time self-portrait, the artist wears a traditional late 1800’s plains-style Amerindian deer hide dress (hand-made by herself) while on the Brooklyn library escalator. Here she is seen moving in perpetual & subtly changing movement - whilst staying in the same place.

    In this simultaneously playful, serious & surreal installation piece, the escalator and the simple act of taking steps and ‘being present’ are abstracted to become both symbol and exploration of divergent Indigenous/Colonial notions & paradigms regarding knowledge, and our relationships to environment, time, technology, and spiritual movement.

    The dress, the escalator and the library represent various elements of the contrasting cultural approaches of Native and Western cultures. The 'house of books' becomes a poignant yet wry location to find an Indigenous woman wearing such a dress, it being such a strong icon for First Nations cultures and knowledge. Cultures in which, until recently, knowledge has been passed in an oral tradition, and cultures which are also misleadingly positioned in mainstream ethos as being a thing of the past.

    The escalator and the dress can also be seen to represent the technology of these two cultures, not as one advanced & one primitive, but because there is as much sophisticated science involved in both tanning a deer hide and making a hide dress as in the creation of an escalator. And yet the approaches to technology in each culture differ fundamentally, and are only visible depending on the cultural lens.

    Created in a time of escalating environmental crisis, the self-portrait metaphorically alludes to this Indigenous cultural sophistication, suggesting a much needed understanding of continued Indigenous presence in a colonial landscape, and the huge potential value this 'knowledge' holds.

    The artist's movement appears endless, repetitive & rhythmic. These elements of her 'journey' mirror aspects of ceremony & ritual that induce trance states in both participant & viewer, and facilitate deep connection with a broader realm than just the physical. In this way the movement on the escalator connects directly to First Nation cultural activity & perspective, particularly as it pertains to accessing & gathering knowledge.