Sanguine et terres brulées / Blood Ties, Scorched Earth addresses issues of appropriation, both of territory and of cultural symbols, resulting from extensive colonialism on Turtle Island. Maryse Arseneault reflects upon the marriages, mixing, and encounters between Acadians and Mi’kmaqs, which became taboo after the 1755 Great Upheaval and the mass evangelization of the remaining population.
The artist sourced from the internet numerous “cabinet card” portraits of Indigenous individuals taken by pioneers, such as Edward Sheriff Curtis and C. S. Fly, and reworked them so that each face is veiled by an eight-point design, similar to those found on Acadian quilts. The photo- graphs have been mounted on wood and installed on the floor like tiles to completely fill the gallery space, making reference to the territory that was trampled at the expense of its Indigenous peoples. To avoid walking on the composition, visitors must follow the cardinal directions intrinsic to the Mi’kmaq eight-point star. To better observe each of the hundreds of images on view, viewers are invited to kneel down in contemplation. Over the course of the exhibition, the installation will be complemented with a Talking Circle led by an Elder as a means of disseminating cultural, spiritual, and political exchange.