In the exhibition, each story took shape through different forms of documentation. Performative exhibition strategies lent a participatory agency to viewers, much as Humberto gives to his collaborators. Original performance documentation, re-edited into mini-films that unfolded cinematically, narrated the “action” of the performances themselves. For each performance, iconic moments were represented by photographs, accompanied by portraits of individual performers hung side-by-side — a strange family portrait of all of Humberto’s past collaborators and friends. The videos and photographs, moreover, were framed by artefacts, such as the banners created by participants for some of the performances, showing the pride that each performance elicited from its participants. When viewed together, the documentation and artefacts became testaments to the new aesthetic possibilities manifested in Vélez’s performative actions.
The Awakening/Giigozhozin (El despertar).
This performance took place at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court on Saturday, May 14th 2011. The Awakening takes its cue from Métis leader Louis Riel’s famous 1885 quotation, “My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
Commissioned by the Art Gallery of York University and three years in the making through residencies in 2009, 2010, and 2011, The Awakening is the culmination of a sustained relationship between Humberto and the people of Toronto and surrounding area. (The exhibition and performance are the artist’s first projects in North America.)
The performance brought together First Nations artists, musicians, and dancers (from the Greater Toronto Area and the Mississaugas of The New Credit First Nations), with Aboriginal youth and elders, and with Toronto’s Urban Runners (parkours) in a new “art ceremony” in the symbolic centre of Toronto’s visual culture (and power).