Special Live Opening Event with Bonnie Devine
La Rábida, Soul of Conquest: An Anishinaabe Encounter
Opening Friday, May 13 at the Thames Art Gallery 6 – 9 pm
Join the Thames Art Gallery in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Peterborough as we present an extraordinary evening with Bonnie Devine and her exhibition La Rábida, Soul of Conquest: An Anishinaabe Encounter. An Artist Talk will commence at 6 pm and a live choral performance of David DeLeary’s commissioned work “Inter Caetera 1493 – Dudem Siquidem” will take place in the gallery at 8 featuring Andrew Balfour and the voices of an all-Indigenous choir. This event adds particular resonance to the recent Papal meeting with Indigenous leaders in Rome.
La Rábida is a Franciscan monastery overlooking the mouth of the Rio Tinto near the small town of Palos de la Frontera on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Christopher Columbus set sail from this place in August 1492 confident he would find a new route to Asia. He landed instead on an island in the Caribbean Sea. The cultural confrontation that followed his landing is the inspiration and subject of this exhibition.
The development of La Rábida began in 2015 and 2016 when Bonnie Devine visited Spain, intending to examine the legacy of Columbus from an Indigenous perspective. When she happened upon the monastery at La Rábida, her research evolved into a broader investigation of the religious justification for the seizure of land and the subjugation of Indigenous populations in the Americas. Using primary source material gathered from Europe and the Americas, including the 1493 Papal Bull Inter Caetera – the Doctrine of Discovery, the Nueva Corόnica y Buen Gobierno by Guáman Poma from 1615, and the current town seal of Whitesboro, New York, among others, Devine documents the enduring impact of the Columbus landing in painting, drawing, video, sculpture, and an original commissioned choral work by David DeLeary.
This exhibition comes at a pivotal time when public and government attention is focused on the Truth and Reconciliation process. Devine’s work in La Rábida draws on a repository of historical documents, monuments, and texts that report the violence and injustice of colonialism. The practice of truth-telling is not new – some of the accounts cited in Devine’s exhibition date from as early as the era of initial contact. That these accounts are publicly accessible yet largely ignored in dominant historical narratives reveals how easily power structures are maintained. Devine presents these documents with a stark honesty that lays bare the ongoing insidious effects of colonization.
Two other exhibitions accompany the work of this nationally renowned artist. Darla Fisher-Odjig presents her latest series of paintings and sculptures with Beneath the Mask: Symbols as a Healing Phenomenon and Lay of the Land fills the Mezzanine Gallery with a selection of historical landscape paintings from the permanent collection focusing on the Settler imagination.
The gallery is open from Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and on Friday, May 13, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. The artists will be in attendance for the opening reception on May 13 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. All are welcome.