UWAG exhibit: Mmenwenmad. To Save For Later by Ravin Davis


Breaking boundaries and striking a strong impact through dynamically choreographed poses, Mmenwenmad | To Save For Later by Raven Davis is now on display at UWAG and is an exemplary masterpiece. 

Mmenwenmad | To Save For Later portrays and acknowledges the lived experience of the physical body as an incalculable, unwritten document. It focuses on the collective experience of one’s life from a holistic lens; from relationships with the land to the impact on life due to deep-rooted issues such as colonization and trauma.

As an Anishinaabe, 2-Spirit, transgender, disabled, multidisciplinary artist, activist and educator, Ravin Davis takes on the passion of art and fuses it with challenging factors of systematic oppression, colonization, race, gender, disability and 2-spirit-Indigenous-queer identity.

Initially planned for the summer of 2020, Mmenwenmad | To Save For Later is at last on display despite the initial delay due to the pandemic. It is presented in partnership with CAFKA 21 (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area) Contemporary Art in the Public Space, an extension of the biennial Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost. The exhibit features two filing cabinets mounted on a tall podium in the centre, followed by a series of framed photographs in sequence. Altogether, they render a monochromatic essence with overflowing emotions and stories yet to be discovered, yet to be told.

 Jurakic, art curator and director at the UWAG expressed his contentment towards the process of curating the exhibit.

“It evolved to be more than just pictures on the wall, it was something portraying an interesting relationship to the landscape,” Jurakic said.

 Throughout the photographs, Davis is pictured creating temporary tributes honoring the water, land and the sky on the coastline of Mi’kma’ki, also known as the Atlantic Coast. They are also seen questioning what has been worthy of saving, what has been lost and what has been intentionally left out. 

The photographs featuring Davis express how the land, the water and the skies have been subject to injustice for years. By striking personally choreographed poses, they call attention to the impacts of colonization and trauma endured by the people throughout the ages. This is an integral aspect of the exhibit as it not only highlights but also closely aligns with the filing cabinets. It hints at and expresses the impacts of disability, transness, diaspora and the patriarchal authority embossed on the people and the land they reside on. The filing cabinets are a symbolic representation of the stored and hidden information of these events. The height at which these cabinets are mounted depicts an unattainable reach. 

Mmenwenmad | To Save For Later boldly echoes the lived experience of the artist, reclaiming the histories of Indigenous people by restoring their cultural identity while also honoring the land, water and the Earth in general. The exhibit calls out to the spectators with a disclosed story, something hidden in the filing cabinets only known and witnessed by the land.

Mmenwenmad | To Save For Later is displayed at the UW Art Gallery (UWAG) till March 25, 2022. For more information visit the UWAG website.