7:30PM | Thursday, September 20 | VISUAL Q3

performance: vanessa dion fletcher

Regina Public Library / Dunlop Art Gallery | 2311 12th Avenue


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Offensive | Defensive

Vanessa Dion Fletcher - Potawatomi and Lenape ancestry - lives in Tkaronto (Toronto)

Porcupine quills were used before the introduction of glass beads, died and embroidered onto clothing, moccasins and baskets or boxes. To be used, the quills need to be soaked and flattened; currently, they are soaked in dishes of water and flattened with a spoon. In the old days, women would soak them in their mouths and pull them out through their teeth to flatten them.
I wanted to feel the same thing our people did years ago. I can’t speak my language, but I can fill my mouth with quills, like words I’ll never know. I hold them on my tongue, wanting to choke a little out of sadness, but not letting myself. Placing the quills in my mouth, I inhibit my ability to speak. Approaching audience members one by one maintaining eye contact I slowly remove a quill from my mouth and offer it to the audience. This intimate gesture builds a momentary connection between us. I repeat this gesture cycling through the audience, replacing the quills in my mouth as I go. With little access to my indigenous languages, I sometimes find power in silence.