“Itasca”

The Bindery Projects
708 Vandalia Ave., 4th Floor
June 24, 2016–September 3, 2016

Nyeema Morgan, Untitled, No. 1 (I, Rhinoceros), 2014, cast and painted resin with found objects, each 18'' x 8'' x 49''.

“Itasca” draws a through line from current global trade systems to that of the early beaver fur trade between Lake Superior and Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River, to assert the combined dependence on animals and slavery at the root of labor worldwide. Some more obvious approaches, such as Duane Linklater’s The State That I Seek to Name, 2014, where a mink pelt hangs from a dress rack beside a trapper’s bag, give way to the more subtle, such as Hermione Spriggs’s Stanford Map of the River Thames, Lechlade to Richmond, 2016, a video of the needle of a player piano roll whose notes follow the shape of the Thames. The sounds tumble, raucous and dissonant, while on an adjacent wall a paper piano roll of the Mississippi is on view. The two waterways are linked through the acculturation of the beaver pelt into the gentleman’s eighteenth-century top hat, then commonly worn in London.

At the opening of this show, Cameron Gainer performed Shot, 2005–, on a snare drum as projected snapshots of trophy antlers sped by. Fleeting are the bonds of items traded and treaties signed in Nadia Myre’s Orison, 2014, and Nyeema Morgan’s Untitled, No. 1 (I, Rhinoceros), 2014. Orison is a black-and-white digital print of the knots tied at the back of Myre’s beading over the text of the 1876 Canadian Indian Act, revealing only a succession of white lines as if omitting classified text. Morgan’s piece displays three mass-produced ceramic lamp bases tilting slightly downward as they emerge from the wall, each held by one large black resin hand. Their fingertips barely grasp at the bases, creating anxiety that one will slip and shatter across the floor, echoing the precarious conditions of globalized labor.

— Sheila Dickinson