What is the role prophecy plays in indigenous cultures and how has it shaped our world?
It’s an interesting question heading into 2012, the end date of the Mayan calendar cycle and either the end of the world or the beginning of a new era, depending the prophecy you follow.
Facing down the myriad of ways indigenous cultures handle prophesies and the role of prophecy in culture will be the Ullus Collective and member Jennifer Pickering, the outspoken former Alternator Centre director who was known for both her vision and ability to push boundaries.
“I was invited to do something for a 2012 event and I thought this would be a really cool opportunity to do another iteration of React 2010,” explained Pickering, who is co-curating a new project called React 2012 all about prophecy.
React 2010 was an online artistic forum inviting anyone who wanted to offer their artistic reaction to the 2010 Olympics to showcase their project in a collective space.
It spoke to the redirection of government funds away from social programs to the corporations which profit from mass sports events. It spoke to the needs of the homeless, displaced by the Olympic security and venues. It spoke to the ability of those in power to curtail the rights of the masses in order to profit.
And it also spoke to a very wide audience.
Picked up by anyone who wished to log on, it inspired curators from around the world as national and international media picked up on the creations, particularly in the tumultuous lead-up to the event.
React 2012 offers the same possibilities as the world turns its attention to the possible end of days.
While the collective is still in search of funding, Pickering is hoping they can use the same React format to show the world how indigenous cultures other than the Mayans use prophecy, leaving a mark on society at large.
The first event in the React 2012 project, Picto Prophesy, launches today, Nov. 25 at the En’owkin Centre in the South Okanagan with artists from the Ullus Collective explaining prophecy from their own point of view.
“Certainly everyone’s seen the Hollywood movies and their fantastical representations of the end of the world…So I thought we might just try and tackle some of that hype and the information that’s going around and channel it to create a discussion that we need to have about our future,” said Pickering.
From the environment, to politics, to the economy, Pickering believes we are sitting at crossroads and wants to use the online showcase to see how artists and creative culture generators can re-envision the future.
The Picto Prophesy Project kicks the entire venture off by drawing on prophesies from cultures around the province to illustrate the meaning of prophecy in this neck of the woods. Using new media and GPS technology to examine how it plays a role in cultures from Syilx, to Sooke and Tlingit, to the Squamish Nation, Coast Salish and beyond, those who make the journey to the En’owkin Centre will certainly find it illuminating.
The presentations include totem poles and rock landmarks, pictographs and coyote markers spanning a wide range of stories and theories on where the world is heading and how everything from potlatches to story markers play into envisioning future possibility.
The artists involved include Victoria Baptiste, Mariel Belanger, Tracey Kim Bonneau, Chris Bose, Bracken H’anuse Corlett and Warren Hooley. They will be joined by guest artists and mentor Cease Wyss and indigenous/traditional ecological knowledge keeper Richard Armstrong.
The presentation runs Friday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. at the En’owkin Centre, Lot 45 Green Mountain Road, Penticton and includes screenings and commentary.