Of/By/For: A Dialogue on Representation

A response to Taras Polataiko's In the Land of the Head Hunters
Organized by Rose Bouthillier for OCAD University

December 1, 2009


Screening: In the Land of War Canoes: Kwakiutl Indian life on the Northwest Coast. Footage by Edward Curtis, 1914. Edited by George Irving Quimby and Bill Holm, 1973.

Screening: In the Land of the Head Hunters, Taras Polataiko, 2008 Panel discussion with Bonnie Devine, Leah Sandals, and Taras Polataiko

The panel discussion focused on Taras Polataiko's video work, In the Land of the Head Hunters (2008), which documents a screening Polataiko arranged, in collaboration with the Kwakiutl Band Council in Fort Rupert, of Edward Curtis' 1914 film In The Land of the Head Hunters.

Polataiko's In the Land of the Headhunters raises a number of ethical and interpretive issues, regarding the sensitivity of First Nations representation, the limits and potential of cross-cultural comparison, and the impact of different cultural and commercial contexts. How might viewers work through this complexity, so that new and critical discussions can take place? The goal of this forum was to involve critics, scholars, artists and students in an active 'live' dialogue.

The panel included Bonnie Devine, curator, artist and director of the Aboriginal Visual Culture program at OCAD U; Leah Sandals, independent art writer and editor; and Taras Polataiko; moderated by Rose Bouthillier.