Thursday, January 21, 2010

Star Trek, Avatar and Indians: Q&A with Jeff Thomas

A couple of years back, I had a chance to see Jeff Thomas' exhibition at the University of Toronto Art Centre. I really enjoyed it, and was happy to have the opportunity to chat with him last week about his work, which is currently part of a much different, more intervention-styled, project at the Glenbow in Calgary. Today the National Post published our condensed Q&A. Here's an excerpt:

Q Avatar -- which has been criticized by some for promoting stereotypes of aboriginals -- won a couple of Golden Globes this past weekend. What's your take on the film?

A I haven't seen the movie yet, but I want to. Reading reviews, it's reminded me of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. In that episode, the Enterprise receives a distress signal from a band of Indians that've been relocated to another planet. Turns out they're being pushed to relocate again by the race on that planet. So here we are, thinking a thousand years into the future, and the Indians are still being forced to move. What's more, they're still dressed in tribal clothing, and still being shown as not-everyday, not-evolved people. Avatar seems to push the same buttons.

Thomas also curated a show, "Home/land & Security" currently up at Render in Waterloo.

Image of Jeff Thomas' Buffalo Robe Visits the Paris Louvre Courtesy of the artist

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