Transcript: When Consumerism and Art Collide | Jul 02, 2019

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses and a black blazer over a pink shirt.

A caption on screen reads "When consumerism and art collide. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says IT'S BEEN SAID THAT ART
IS A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE,
AND BRIAN JUNGEN IS AN ARTIST
WHO SPEAKS TRUTH TO POWER,
WHETHER HE'S DECONSTRUCTING
NIKE AIR JORDANS
OR PLASTIC PATIO CHAIRS
AND GIVING THEM NEW LIFE.
YOU CAN FIND THAT STRIKING
EXPLORATION AT A NEW EXHIBIT
AT THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO.
HERE FOR MORE IS ARTIST
BRIAN JUNGEN AND KITTY SCOTT,
CURATOR OF MODERN
AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE AGO.

Brian is in his forties, with medium-length wavy gray hair and a goatee. He's wearing a black sweater.
Kitty is in her late forties, with chin-length straight blond hair. She's wearing glasses and a printed black t-shirt.

Nam says WELCOME TO YOU BOTH.
I WAS AT THE SHOW,
AND I WAS COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY
AT HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR BEING HERE.

Brian says OH, YOU'RE WELCOME.

Nam says SO, BEFORE WE START
THE CONVERSATION,
I'VE GOT A CLIP
FROM A DOCUMENTARY SERIES
CALLED
ART IN
THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY,
AND THEN WE'LL START
OUR CONVERSATION.
ALL RIGHT.
SHELDON, PLEASE ROLL.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "Art in the twenty-first century."
In the clip, close-ups show Brian painting with a very thin paintbrush as he looks through a magnifying glass.

Brian says I USED TO MAKE ARTWORK
BECAUSE I THOUGHT
I COULD HIDE BEHIND IT.
AND THAT TURNED OUT
NOT TO BE THE CASE.
MY WORK BECAME SO TIED UP
WITH MY IDENTITY,
ESPECIALLY AS A NATIVE CANADIAN,
THAT IT WAS ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE
TO TALK ABOUT
MY ARTWORK WITHOUT MY IDENTITY.

Fast clips show art pieces exhibited in a museum room.

The clip ends.

NAM SAYS IN THAT CLIP, YOU SAY SOMETHING
THAT I THINK
IS REALLY INTERESTING.
YOU SAY, "I USED TO
MAKE ARTWORK
BECAUSE I THOUGHT
I COULD HIDE BEHIND IT."
WHY DID YOU WANT TO HIDE,
AND FROM WHAT
WERE YOU HIDING?

The caption changes to "Brian Jungen. Artist."
Then, it changes again to "A question of identity."

Brian says UH, WELL, I THINK I'M JUST
PRETTY INTROVERTED. SHY GUY.
AND I HAVE ALWAYS MADE ARTWORK,
AND IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS
VERY IMPORTANT
AND USEFUL FOR ME
IN MY LIFE.
AND I NEVER REALLY INTENDED
THINGS TO GET SO, UM...
I GUESS MY ARTWORK
TO BECOME SO POPULAR.
I MEAN, I'M VERY HUMBLED
BY IT,
BUT IT IS SOMETHING THAT I'VE
HAD TO REALLY GET USED TO.
LIKE, MAYBE 20 YEARS AGO
I WOULD HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO
SIT HERE ON TV WITH YOU.
I WAS A PAINFULLY SHY PERSON.

Nam says WHEN YOU REPURPOSE THINGS,
BECAUSE YOU'RE TAKING
AIR JORDANS AND MAKING THEM INTO
THIS BEAUTIFUL ART,
WHEN YOU DO THAT,
IS THERE AN INTENTION
TO GIVE THESE OBJECTS
THAT WE SEE EVERY DAY
THAT WE TAKE FOR GRANTED...
IS THERE AN INTENTION TO GIVE IT
BASICALLY A NEW LIFE
OR A NEW VOICE
THROUGH YOUR ART?

Two pictures taken from different angles show an art piece made with two white sneakers fused together to form a sort of face with long straight hair.

Brian says SURE. I MEAN,
THEY'RE VERY UNUSUAL THINGS
THAT YOU SEE.
SO, LIKE, THEY KIND OF FLUCTUATE
BETWEEN ABSURD AND UNCANNY
IN MY MIND.
LIKE, UM,
I LIKE THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY SEE
THE END RESULT MAYBE FIRST.
THAT I MAKE THIS SORT OF, LIKE,
MASK OR CREATURE
WITH TRAINERS,
BUT THEY DON'T NECESSARILY SEE
THE AIR JORDANS FIRST.
THEY SEE WHAT I'VE MADE WITH IT,
AND THEN THEY REALIZE
WHAT IT'S MADE OUT OF.
AND IT GIVES IT A KIND OF
A SPARK OR A LIFE, LIKE YOU SAY.

Nam says WELL, IN THE CLIP
THAT WE JUST SAW, WE SAW
THE GOLF BAG TOWERS.
AND KITTY, THEY'RE PART OF
THE PERMANENT COLLECTION
AT THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO,
AND THEY'RE PART OF THIS SHOW
AS WELL.
AS A CURATOR,
WHAT DO YOU FIND COMPELLING
ABOUT THOSE PIECES?

A picture shows three towers made with stacked golf bags.

The caption changes to "Kitty Scott. Art Gallery of Ontario."

Kitty says WELL, YOU KNOW, I THINK
LIKE ALL OF BRIAN'S WORK,
THEY HAVE THIS ABILITY TO...
OR THEY SHOW OFF, IN A WAY,
BRIAN'S ABILITY
TO WORK WITH THESE MATERIALS
IN A HIGHLY INNOVATIVE
AND COMPELLING WAY.
THE IDEA THAT YOU MIGHT GO OUT
AND BUY, YOU KNOW,
20, 30, 40 GOLF BAGS...
CAN YOU IMAGINE THE PROCESS OF
GOING TO THE STORE TO DO THAT?
AND YOU KNOW, YOU WOULD
PROBABLY NEED TO
RENT A TRUCK
TO DO ALL THAT.
YOU BRING THEM HOME.
YOU CUT THEM APART.
YOU REALIZE YOU CAN ACTUALLY,
YOU KNOW,
STRETCH THESE OVER SONOTUBES
AND MAKE THESE INCREDIBLE,
INCREDIBLE SCULPTURES
THAT REALLY HAVE
SOME KIND OF CONNECTION
TO ACTUAL NORTHWEST COAST POLES.
BUT THEY'RE NOTHING LIKE
A TOTEM POLE, RIGHT?
THEY'RE STRUCTURES MADE OUT OF
CARDBOARD AND GOLF BAGS,
IN A SENSE.
SO, THAT ABILITY TO TRANSFORM
THAT KIND OF
ELITE SPORTING ACCESSORY
INTO SOMETHING
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
IS, YOU KNOW...
IT'S ALMOST, YOU KNOW,
A VERY PARTICULAR
KIND OF ABILITY...

Nam says AND YOU DO GO BACK TO SPORTS.
YOU MENTIONED THE GOLF BAGS,
THE AIR JORDANS.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT SPORT
THAT YOU FIND INSPIRATION IN?

Brian says OH, I JUST SEE, UM,
FROM MY OWN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY
HOW IMPORTANT CEREMONY
AND TRADITION AND RITUAL IS
FOR THE STRENGTH OF
A COMMUNITY.
SO, I KIND OF SEE SPORTS IN
A MUCH MORE GLOBAL WAY
FULFILLING
THE SAME SORT OF FUNCTION.
SO THERE'S, UM...
YOU KNOW, AS WE'VE SEEN
WITH THE RAPTORS,
THAT THEY REACHED
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
AND SO MANY PEOPLE
RALLIED AROUND THEM.
IT BECOMES, LIKE,
THIS VERY UNIFYING EVENT,
AND IT'S REALLY WONDERFUL
TO SEE THAT.
LIKE, I THINK THAT'S
THE BEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN
OUT OF SPORT.

Nam says THE COMMUNITY, RIGHT?

Brian says YEAH, YEAH.

Nam says YOU'VE SAID THAT YOU GET
AN ILLICIT THRILL
FROM BUYING AIR JORDAN
BASKETBALL SHOES
AND THEN CUTTING THEM UP
IN ORDER TO CREATE ART PIECES,
INCLUDING THE MASKS
THAT YOU'VE MADE.
WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO USE
CONSUMER CULTURE
TO REIMAGINE TRADITIONAL
INDIGENOUS OBJECTS?

A collage of four pictures shows objects made with Air Jordans, which resemble masks with intense features and long dark hair.

Brian says UH, I THINK
IN THE LATE '90S, I WAS...
I USED TO SPEND A LOT OF TIME
IN NEW YORK CITY.
I LIVED THERE FOR A WHILE.
AND I SAW...
THE NIKETOWN STORE
WAS SHOWING SOME OF THEIR
EARLY AIR JORDAN PROTOTYPES
IN DISPLAY CASES
THAT WERE LIKE MUSEUM CASES.
AND THAT VERY SAME DAY
I WAS ACTUALLY AT
THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY,
LOOKING AT
NATIVE AMERICAN ARTWORK.
AND I JUST...
TO ME, IT KIND OF CLICKED,
THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN BOTH OF
THESE THINGS BEING TREATED AS
VERY FETISHIZED,
ALMOST COMMODITIES.
LIKE, HOW ART HAS BECOME
A COMMODITY AS WELL.
WELL, WITH JORDANS,
THERE'S A SUBCULTURE THAT
COLLECTS, LIKE, THE AIR JORDANS.
SNEAKERHEADS.
THEY'LL LINE UP
FOR DAYS
TO BUY THESE SHOES
THAT ARE VERY EXPENSIVE.

Nam says UM, HAVE YOU HAD ANY REACTION
FROM PEOPLE WHO COLLECT
THESE OBJECTS?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Brian says WELL, YEAH, SURE.
I MEAN, I'M NOT A SNEAKERHEAD,
SO I DON'T HAVE
THE SAME SORT OF, LIKE,
OBSESSIVENESS ABOUT THEM.
I JUST LOOK AT THEM
AS RAW MATERIAL.
SO, I DON'T, LIKE, KEEP THEM
IN SPECIAL PLACES.
LIKE, I CUT THEM UP.
SO, THAT'S, I GUESS,
WHEN YOU WERE SAYING
HOW I HAD AN ILLICIT THRILL
IN IT...
BECAUSE THEY'RE SO EXPENSIVE,
AND I KNEW THAT SOME PEOPLE
WOULD FIND THAT
THERE'S ALMOST A SACRILEGIOUS,
LIKE, ACT
TO WHAT I WAS DOING.
BUT IN THE...
ON THE OTHER HAND,
I KIND OF TURN THEM INTO
SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO BE
CARED FOR IN A MUSEUM
FOR A LONG TIME.
SO, IT'S LIKE I'VE KIND OF
EXTENDED THEIR LIFE,
OR THEIR TRAJECTORY.

Nam says AND THEY PROBABLY HAVE
MORE WORTH NOW.
MY OPINION, ANYWAY.
(LAUGHING)
KITTY, WHEN DID YOU FIRST
DISCOVER BRIAN'S WORK
AND THINK,
THIS IS IMPORTANT?

The caption changes to "Kitty Scott, @AGOToronto."

Kitty says YEAH. I FIRST VISITED BRIAN
AT ONE OF HIS STUDIOS
WHERE HE WAS...
HE WAS ACTUALLY AT
THE ART GALLERY IN VANCOUVER
AND HE WAS MAKING
SHAPESHIFTER,
HIS FIRST WHALE
OUT OF THE PLASTIC PATIO CHAIRS.
I'D KNOWN HIM FOR A LITTLE BIT
OF TIME BEFORE THEN.
BUT I THINK WHEN I WENT IN THERE
AND SAW WHAT HE COULD DO
WITH A WHITE PLASTIC
PATIO CHAIR,
FOR ME, IT'S LIKE, HOW DO YOU
LOOK AT ONE OF THOSE THINGS
AND IMAGINE
A WHOLE WHALE SKELETON?
YOU KNOW, I JUST THOUGHT, OH,
THERE'S SOMETHING GOING ON
IN THIS BRAIN
THAT'S HIGHLY INTRIGUING.
BEFORE THAT, OF COURSE,
I HAD SEEN THE SHOW
AT THE CHARLES H. SCOTT
WHERE HE SHOWED HIS FIRST
PROTOTYPES
FOR NEW UNDERSTANDING,
WHICH IS THE FIRST TIME
HE TOOK AIR JORDANS
AND TRANSFORMED THEM INTO
SCULPTURES THAT RESEMBLE
NORTHWEST COAST MASKS.
AND OF COURSE,
THOSE WERE EQUALLY COMPELLING.
SO, YEAH. I WAS JUST BLOWN AWAY
BY WHAT HE WAS DOING...

Nam says IT'S BREATH-TAKING.
WE'VE TALKED ABOUT
THE WHALE SKELETON.
WE'LL SHOW THAT IN A LITTLE BIT.
BUT WE HAVE ANOTHER CLIP
FROM THE DOCUMENTARY
I SHOWED EARLIER,
ART IN
THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY,
LET'S TAKE A LOOK.

In another clip from the documentary, Brian drives a truck down a rural highway.

He says IF YOU ASK
ANY NATIVE INDIAN PERSON
"WHERE ARE YOU FROM,"
THEY WOULDN'T REALLY SAY
THE CITY THEY HAPPEN TO BE
LIVING IN.
THEY WOULD SAY
WHERE THEIR BLOOD RELATIONS ARE.

(MELLOW COUNTRY MUSIC PLAYING
ON PEDAL STEEL)

Horses cross a dirt road.

Brian continues I'M DANE-ZAA.
SO, THAT IS A VERY SPECIFIC PART
OF THE COUNTRY.
WHEN I MOVED TO VANCOUVER
WHEN I WAS 18
TO GO TO ART SCHOOL,
THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME
I'D LIVED IN A CITY.
I LOVED THE OPPORTUNITIES
AND THE CULTURE
AROUND YOU
WHEN YOU'RE IN A CITY,
BUT I PREFER TO LIVE OUT HERE.
IT'S NICE TO SEE
ALL THIS SAGE BLOOMING, EH?

The clip ends.

Nam says WHAT BEAUTIFUL IMAGERY.
IT'S GORGEOUS.

Brian says I FORGOT THEY HAD
THAT MUSIC ON THERE.

(LAUGHING)

Nam says DO YOU LIKE THE MUSIC?

Brian says OH, YEAH.

The caption changes to "Influences."

Nam says IT'S JUST
SO BEAUTIFUL THERE.
SO, HOW DOES LIVING
IN THOSE TWO PLACES...
THE CITY AND THE FARM...
IMPACT YOUR ART?

Brian says OH, LIKE, I'M SOMEBODY
WHO NEEDS TO HAVE A LOT OF, UM,
TIME ALONE.
THAT'S SOMETHING
I JUST REALLY NEED.
AND SO, THAT'S KIND OF
WHAT LIFE AT THE RANCH IS LIKE,
AND I HAVE A REALLY WONDERFUL
STUDIO THERE
AND SOME REALLY GREAT EMPLOYEES
WHO HELP OUT AND DO
SO MUCH FOR ME.
AND SO,
I'M VERY GRATEFUL FOR THAT,
AND I'M ABLE TO PRODUCE
A LOT MORE ARTWORK
AND THINK ABOUT STUFF THERE.
AND THEN I TRAVEL
FOR EXHIBITIONS.
SO, I'M IN CITIES QUITE OFTEN,
AND I REALLY LIKE
THAT RELATIONSHIP, SO...

Nam says DOES ONE GIVE YOU MORE
INSPIRATION THAN THE OTHER,
OR IS IT JUST...

Brian says WELL, I LIVED IN VANCOUVER
FOR 20 YEARS,
AND THAT'S WHERE I MADE
THE MAJORITY OF THE WORK
THAT'S IN THE SHOW AT
THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO.
AND THERE IS
A VERY STRONG SENSE OF,
I THINK, THE COAST
AND VANCOUVER IN THAT SHOW.
BUT I LIVE IN THE INTERIOR
OF BC NOW,
SO IT'S SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT.
BUT, YEAH. MY WORKS DEFINITELY
RELATES TO, I THINK,
AN URBAN EXPERIENCE,
WITH THE AIR JORDANS
AND WHATNOT.
SO...
BUT IRONICALLY,
I LIVE OUT IN THE COUNTRY.

Nam says IN THE COUNTRY.
WELL, KITTY, THIS NEW EXHIBITION
IS CALLED
FRIENDSHIP CENTRE.
WHY THAT TITLE?

d says YOU KNOW, WHEN WE WERE BEGINNING
TO WORK ON THE SHOW
ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO,
BRIAN CAME TO THE AGO AND WE
WERE LOOKING AT THE GALLERIES,
THE ZACKS PAVILION,
AND BRIAN AND I KIND OF REMARKED
ON HOW THIS LOOKED
VERY MUCH LIKE A GYM.
AND BRIAN, DO YOU WANT TO TALK
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
FRIENDSHIP CENTRES AND...

Brian says OH, YEAH, SURE.
I MEAN,
I THINK FRIENDSHIP CENTRES
ARE VERY SPECIFIC TO CANADA, AND
THEY WERE STARTED IN THE '50S
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
AS, UM...
LOCATIONS, LIKE,
COMMUNITY CENTRES
FOR INDIGENOUS FOLKS
WHO WERE MOVING TO THE CITY
OR HAD BEEN RELOCATED
TO THE CITY.
SO, THEY BECAME
THESE RESOURCE CENTRES.
AND THEIR KIND OF GOAL
WAS TO BE VERY WELCOMING,
AND ALSO TO TEACH PEOPLE
IN THE CITY
ABOUT ABORIGINAL CULTURE.
THEY STILL EXIST
ALMOST EVERYWHERE IN CANADA,
AND THEY'RE VERY SPECIFIC
TO CANADA.
AND SO, UM,
I HAD A STUDIO
IN VANCOUVER
A LONG TIME AGO
THAT WAS RIGHT BEHIND
THE EAST VANCOUVER
FRIENDSHIP CENTRE.
SO, I SPENT A LOT OF TIME THERE,
AND THEY HAD A GYMNASIUM.
AND I WAS VERY...
LIKE, I COULD LITERALLY LOOK OUT
MY STUDIO BACK DOOR
INTO THE GYMNASIUM.
SO, I SAW SO MANY DIFFERENT
ACTIVITIES HAPPENING THERE,
AND IT WAS WONDERFUL TO MEET
PEOPLE AND HANG OUT THERE.
AND SO, I KIND OF WANT TO
RE-CREATE THAT FEELING
FOR MY EXHIBITION
AT THE ART GALLERY.

Nam says AND I THINK
YOU DO GET THAT SENSE,
BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO TO
THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO,
YOU ENTER THIS ONE ROOM
AND IT'S HUGE,
FIRST OF ALL,
AND IT'S, UH,
THE LINES ON THE COURT
LIKE A BASKETBALL CENTRE,
A BASKETBALL COURT.
HOW DIFFICULT WAS THAT FOR YOU
TO SET UP?

A picture appears on screen of a drawing of overlapping basketball courts in yellow, red and orange.

Kitty says YEAH. YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S
A CERTAIN KIND OF CHALLENGE,
BECAUSE I'VE NEVER PUT
A BASKETBALL COURT
INTO AN ART GALLERY BEFORE.
AND OF COURSE, YOU KNOW,
IT'S REALLY COMING FROM
AN ARTIST'S IDEA, AND SO...

NAM SAYS BECAUSE IT'S THE SAME WIDTH,
RIGHT? LIKE, THE SAME SPECS?

Kitty says ROUGHLY, YEAH.

Nam says YEAH, ROUGHLY?
ROUGHLY THE SAME KINDS OF
PROPORTIONS... APPROXIMATELY.

Brian says YEAH. THE ARCHITECTURE
JUST REALLY SUITED
TURNING IT INTO A GYMNASIUM.

Kitty says YEAH, YEAH. BUT WORKING
CLOSELY WITH BRIAN
TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE FLOOR
WAS GOING TO LOOK LIKE.
YOU KNOW, IF YOU DO A GYMNASIUM
FLOOR, IT CAN BE WOOD.
IT CAN BE... YOU KNOW, IT CAN BE
GREEN, BROWN, BLACK.
WHATEVER COLOUR YOU WANT
THESE DAYS.
SO, WE SETTLED ON BLACK
AS A GREAT, YOU KNOW, BACKDROP,
AND THEN, BRIAN DESIGNED
ALL THE LINES.
AND YOU KNOW, IT'S JUST...
IT'S A BIG CHALLENGE
TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT
IN THE GALLERY, OF COURSE.

Brian says I DID DRAWINGS OF COURT LINES
IN BASKETBALL COURTS.
SO, TO ME, I SEE THE FLOOR
AS KIND OF LIKE
A VERY LARGE DRAWING.
AND SO, THAT WAS KIND OF
EXCITING TO HAVE THAT.
I MAINLY MAKE MY OWN WORK.
SO, WHEN I HAVE THINGS
FABRICATED,
I'M ALWAYS A BIT NERVOUS.
BUT IT TURNED OUT WONDERFUL.

Nam says AND WHEN
YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING,
DO YOU KNOW WHAT
IT'S GOING TO BE AT THE END,
OR IS IT JUST SOMETHING
THAT FLOWS?

Brian says OH, I LIKE THE FREEDOM
OF NOT KNOWING A DESTINATION.
THERE'S
A CERTAIN EXCITEMENT
ABOUT WORKING THAT WAY,
BUT IT'S VERY, VERY STRESSFUL.
I THINK IN A WAY FOR...
I GUESS FOR CURATORS, TOO,
IT WOULD BE STRESSFUL.

Kitty says YEAH. YOU HAVE TO HAVE KIND OF
FAITH IN IT, RIGHT?

Brian says RIGHT.

Kitty says AND YOU GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE
AND YOU'RE, LIKE,
"WE'RE GOING TO DO THIS."
BUT YEAH, IT'S KIND OF
TERRIFYING IN A WAY,
AND YOU DON'T KNOW
WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO END UP.
BUT I THINK WE ENDED UP
IN A GREAT PLACE.

Nam says WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT
SOME SPECIFIC PIECES.
I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT
KING CAPRA
AND OTHERS.
WHAT FIRST PROMPTED YOU
TO EXPLORE
MORE ABSTRACT FORMS
LIKE THOSE PIECES?

A picture shows two art pieces made with dozens of sneakers melted together, forming shapes with two wing-like structures.
Then another picture shows a piece in tones of burgundy white and blue, with a repetitive structure resembling an object moving rapidly from side to side.
A third picture shows a green and white object made with layers of a rubbery material.

Brian says WELL, I'VE ALWAYS BEEN
REALLY INTERESTED IN
ABSTRACT MODERN SCULPTURE
AND WHERE THAT CAME FROM,
OUT OF, LIKE,
NON-WESTERN SOURCES.
SO I FELT LIKE IN A WAY
I WAS REVISITING THIS IDEA
OF MODERN ART,
BUT THROUGH THIS FILTER
OF BEING FROM
AN INDIGENOUS BACKGROUND.
SO, I WANTED TO...
AND I ALSO WANTED TO MAKE
SOMETHING WITH THE TRAINERS
THAT DIDN'T REALLY HAVE
THE SAME SORT OF USE
AS SOMETHING
THAT YOU WOULD WEAR.

Nam says BUT HOW DID YOU
SEE THAT?
'CAUSE WHEN I SEE
A TRAINER,
I DON'T...
LIKE, WHAT YOU'VE CREATED
IS SO FANTASTIC.
BUT HOW DID YOU...
WHAT DREW YOU,
INITIALLY,
TO SEE A SNEAKER
AS A MASK?

Brian says WELL, MAYBE I DON'T REALLY LOOK
AT OBJECTS IN THE WORLD
THE SAME WAY MOST PEOPLE DO.
LIKE, I LOOK AT
HOW THINGS CAN COME APART
OR HOW THEY DON'T FUNCTION.

A picture shows a white plastic lawn chair.

Brian says FOR INSTANCE, THE CHAIRS,
ONCE THEY'RE BROKEN MOST PEOPLE
THROW THEM OUT.
BUT I FIND THAT
REALLY LIBERATING.

Nam says WELL, YEAH. LET'S TALK
ABOUT THAT PIECE.
WHERE DID THE IDEA
FOR YOUR WHALE SKELETON
SCULPTURES ORIGINATE?

The caption changes to "Have a seat."

A picture shows a huge art piece on display in a museum room, made of white material that closely resembles a whale skeleton.

Brian says WELL, I WAS FASCINATED
IN THOSE CHAIRS
FOR WHY I JUST MENTIONED:
THAT THEY HAVE BEAUTIFUL FORM.
AND ONCE THEY'RE BROKEN,
PEOPLE JUST CHUCK THEM OUT
BECAUSE YOU CAN'T FIX THEM.
SO, THEY'RE INCREDIBLY WASTEFUL.
BUT I ALSO WAS RESEARCHING
THE WHALING INDUSTRY
ON THE WEST COAST,
AROUND 20 YEARS AGO.
AND I REALIZED OR I READ
THAT THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY
REPLACED WHALE OIL
AS A SOURCE OF HEATING OIL.
AND SO, THAT WAS
VERY INTERESTING TO ME.
SO, I DECIDED TO MAKE SOMETHING
TOTALLY ORGANIC
LIKE A SKELETON OUT OF SOMETHING
THAT'S TOTALLY INORGANIC,
THIS PETROLEUM-BASED PLASTIC.
SO, THAT WILL LAST
FOR A VERY LONG TIME.

Nam says AND EVEN JUST, LIKE,
WHEN YOU LOOK AT
THE DETAILING, KITTY...
YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT
UP CLOSE
AND YOU SEE THOSE BOLTS.
LIKE, IT'S JUST BREATH-TAKING.

Kitty says YEAH. I MEAN,
WE HAVE SOME GREAT FOOTAGE
IN THE ARCHIVES SECTION
OF THE EXHIBITION
OF HIM TAKING BITS
OF PLASTIC CHAIR
AND TRYING TO FIT THEM TOGETHER
TO FIGURE OUT HOW
HE WAS GOING TO MAKE THIS FORM,
AND IT'S FASCINATING TO WATCH.
I MEAN, AGAIN,
I'M NOT SURE HOW HE DOES THIS,
BUT HE'S SITTING HERE
AND HE DOES DO IT.

Nam says WELL, IN THE CATALOGUE
THAT ACCOMPANIES
THE EXHIBIT, KITTY,
YOU WRITE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Explorations and experiments." The quote reads "Brian Jungen is a maker, an artist renowned for the ways in which he works with his hands to transform a wide variety of objects and materials. In recent years, Jungen has opened up new avenues of inquiry, seizing on an even greater range of materials. He has learned traditional Indigenous techniques and has introduced this knowledge into his sculptural vocabulary."
Quoted from Kitty Scott, "Brian Jungen Friendship Centre" catalogue. 2019.

Nam says WHAT DO YOU FIND APPEALING
ABOUT THE SCULPTURES
THAT BRIAN HAS CREATED
BY BLENDING CHAIRS
AND TRADITIONAL
ANIMAL SKIN DRUM HEADS,
AS YOU CAN SEE IN THESE IMAGES?

A picture shows two chair-like objects with thousands of dark threads.
Another picture shows an art piece with blue thread and tan leather set up on a black table.
Another picture shows two chair structures joined together by a hide lining.

Kitty says YEAH. YOU KNOW,
I THINK HE'S REALLY
ASKING US, YOU KNOW,
WHAT IS SCULPTURE?
OR TELLING US, LIKE,
"THIS IS WHAT SCULPTURE CAN BE."
AND IT'S A COMPLETELY
NEW LANGUAGE.
I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT
BEFORE.
I LOVE THE IDEAS
THAT THE DRUMS THEMSELVES
ARE, UH...
YOU CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THEM.
I MEAN, BRIAN DOESN'T
MAKE THEM TO PLAY THEM,
BUT THEY HAVE
BEEN PLAYED ONCE.
I THINK THEY'RE
EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL.

Brian says DRUMMING IS VERY IMPORTANT
TO MY DANE-ZAA CULTURE,
BUT ALSO
MOST INDIGENOUS CULTURES.
AND IT'S SOMETHING...
I CONSIDER THAT LIKE
A VERY KIND OF
FIRST NATIONS TECHNOLOGY,
LEARNING HOW TO USE HIDE.
AND, UM,
THAT'S SOMETHING
THAT I KIND OF LEARNED
THROUGH MY FAMILY
AND RESEARCHING.
SO, I WANTED TO USE
THAT TECHNOLOGY
TO MAKE SOMETHING THAT'S VERY
KIND OF, LIKE, UNUSUAL AND NEW.
LIKE, MOVE IT OUT OF THE REALM
OF SOMETHING
THAT'S VERY TRADITIONAL.

Nam says MM-HMM. AND WHEN YOU
WERE MAKING THE DRUMS
YOU CONSIDERED THE SOUND.
WAS THAT IMPORTANT
TO CONSIDER AS WELL?

Brian says WELL, YEAH, SURE, 'CAUSE I KNEW
THAT WE WERE GOING TO BE
PLAYING THEM.
SO, WE JUST PLAYED THEM ONCE.
JUST KIND OF, LIKE, AS A WAY TO
BREAK THEM IN OR HONOUR THEM.

Nam says UH-HUH.
WE HAVE ANOTHER IMAGE TO SHOW,
ANOTHER PIECE.
KITTY, TELL US ABOUT BRIAN'S
SCULPTURE
THE PRINCE,
WHICH WE CAN SEE RIGHT NOW.

A picture shows a sculpture in the shape of a human being.

The caption changes to "Play ball."

Kitty says YEAH.
THAT'S A FANTASTIC WORK.
I THINK ALMOST
WHEN YOU MEET PRINCE
AT THE FRONT OF THE EXHIBITION,
IT'S MODELLED AFTER
A KIND OF CIGAR-STORE INDIAN
THAT YOU WOULD SEE OUTSIDE OF
A TOBACCO SHOP
AT A CERTAIN PERIOD.
AND I THINK THIS WAS SOMETHING
THAT WAS SORT OF PERMISSIBLE
IN CULTURE
FOR A PERIOD OF TIME.
IT NO LONGER IS.
BUT YOU KNOW, FOR BRIAN TO GO IN
AND TO WORK WITH BASEBALL
GLOVES, SOFTBALL GLOVES...
YOU KNOW, TAKE THEM APART,
PUT THEM BACK TOGETHER
TO CREATE THIS FORM.
HE ACTUALLY BUILT THE FORM UP
ON A HUMAN BODY
TO DO THIS.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
IS QUITE INTIMIDATING.
IT'S NOT NECESSARILY
A WELCOMING CHARACTER
OR PURELY A SIGN,
AND I THINK THAT
WHEN BRIAN WAS BUILDING THIS
ON ONE OF HIS MODEL'S BODIES,
THE MODEL WAS HOLDING
A BASEBALL BAT
AND IT WAS QUITE MENACING.
YOU CAN ALSO CONNECT
A FORM LIKE THIS TO, UH...
YOU THINK ABOUT SPORTS,
AND YOU THINK OF THE WAY
INDIGENOUS NAMES
HAVE BEEN USED IN SPORTS.
SO, YOU HAVE VARIOUS TEAM NAMES
THAT TAKE AFTER SPORTS CULTURE.
SO, THAT KIND OF THING COMES UP,
AND I THINK
WITH BRIAN'S WORK,
THERE'S CONTINUALLY
THIS QUESTIONING
ABOUT THE WAY
INDIGENOUS...
INDIGENEITY KIND OF, YOU KNOW,
SEEPS INTO OUR CULTURE.
AND THEN AT MANY TIMES,
WE'RE KIND OF RE-EVALUATING
THESE THINGS RIGHT NOW,
BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT ALWAYS...

Nam says IS THIS... IS THAT...
JUST TO FOLLOW UP
WITH WHAT KITTY SAID,
IS THIS A WAY FOR YOU
TO CHALLENGE US
TO RECONSIDER WHAT WE THINK IS
INDIGENOUS ART?

Brian says YEAH. SO, THAT'S KIND OF
A GOOD STARTING POINT,
AND SOMETIMES, LIKE,
WITH THAT PIECE,
I WAS VERY INTERESTED IN
JUST THE MATERIALS AS WELL.
SO, THE BASEBALL GLOVE,
BECAUSE IT WAS FAIRLY EASY
TO TAKE APART.
I WAS ALSO LOOKING AT THINGS
LIKE JAPANESE ARMOUR
AROUND THEN,
AND I WANTED TO MAKE SOMETHING
THAT WAS ALMOST, LIKE,
SOLDIER-LIKE, TOO,
BUT ALSO HAD THIS...
LIKE KITTY SAID, THIS, LIKE,
CIGAR-STORE INDIAN.
LIKE, I'VE ACTUALLY NEVER
REALLY SEEN ONE OF THOSE,
'CAUSE THAT'S DISAPPEARED
BEFORE MY TIME.
BUT YOU SEE THEM IN FILM,
OLD MOVIES AND STUFF.

Nam says AND WHEN I WAS AT
THE MEDIA EVENT
FOR THIS EXHIBIT,
YOU TOLD A STORY
ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
GOLF COURSES AND RESERVATIONS.
CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT?

Brian says YEAH. LIKE, IN METRO VANCOUVER,
THERE'S A NUMBER OF GOLF COURSES
THAT ARE ON LEASED LAND
FROM DIFFERENT NATIONS.
MUSQUEAM NATION
AND OTHER COAST SALISH NATIONS.
AND IT STRUCK ME AS
A VERY DIFFERENT,
COMPLETELY POLARIZED VIEW
OF LAND USE.
AND HERE WE HAVE, LIKE,
SANCTIONED,
GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED,
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED
HOUSING
ON AND OFF THE CONTESTED LAND,
AND THEN A GOLF COURSE,
WHICH JUST SEEMED LIKE
THE ULTIMATE KIND OF LUXURY
AND, UH...
QUESTIONABLE WATER USE.
YOU KNOW?
LIKE, USE OF LAND.
SO, THAT'S KIND OF
WHERE THAT ALL STARTED.
AND OF COURSE,
IF YOU'RE INDIGENOUS,
AND YOU MENTION GOLF
OR GOLF COURSES,
YOU ALMOST ALWAYS THINK OF
THE OKA CRISIS IN 1990,
WHICH STEMMED FROM
A DISPUTE OVER
THE EXPANSION OF A GOLF COURSE.
SO, I TOOK CUES FROM ALL THAT,
AND I THINK ESPECIALLY
IF YOU'RE SOMEBODY WHO IS...
REMEMBERS THAT PERIOD
OR IS AWARE OF
THAT TYPE OF LAND USE,
THEN YOU CAN PICK UP ON THOSE.
I ALSO LIKE...
WITH THOSE MATERIALS,
I ACTUALLY DIDN'T HAVE TO CHANGE
THEM VERY MUCH.
LIKE, EVERYBODY COMES WITH
A PREDETERMINED IDEA
OF WHAT A TOTEM POLE LOOKS LIKE.
SO, I DIDN'T ACTUALLY HAVE TO
CHANGE THEM VERY MUCH.
WE ALL HAVE THAT SHARED IDEA
OF WHAT THAT OBJECT LOOKS LIKE.

Kitty says AND YET IN SOME WAYS,
THEY LOOK NOTHING LIKE
A TOTEM POLE, RIGHT?

Brian says MM-HMM.

Nam says I THINK IT'S REALLY
INTERESTING, TOO,
THAT IT SEEMS LIKE
NOTHING GOES TO WASTE
WITH EVERYTHING THAT YOU USE.
IS THAT IMPORTANT
FOR YOU, TOO?

Brian says YEAH.
I MEAN, I TRY NOT TO WASTE,
AND I TRY TO RECYCLE
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
I MADE A WHOLE SERIES OF
THESE VERY LARGE TORTOISE SHELLS
THAT WERE BIG ENOUGH
TO WALK INTO
OUT OF RECYCLING
AND GARBAGE BINS,
AND THEY WERE ALL RECYCLED
INTO OTHER STUFF.
BUT I ALSO KNEW THAT, LIKE, I
WANTED TO USE AS MUCH
OF THAT MATERIAL AS POSSIBLE
RATHER THAN JUST, YOU KNOW,
THROW AWAY THE SCRAPS
KIND OF THING.

(CHUCKLING)

Kitty says YEAH, AND I THINK
THERE'S A WAY,
AS HIS FACILITY
HAS GROWN WITH THE SNEAKER,
THAT HE'S FOUND A WAY TO USE
EVERY PART OF THE SNEAKER.
SO, A LOT OF THE WORKS
INCORPORATE THE LACES NOW
AS TUFTING AND FUR.
AND YEAH. I THINK IT'S REALLY...
HE'S DEVELOPED HIS USE.

Brian says I THINK THAT CAME OUT OF
MY, LIKE, UPBRINGING
OF BEING KIND OF, LIKE,
GROWING UP WITH...
FAIRLY MODESTLY,
AND, UM, JUST
HOW ESPECIALLY
MY INDIGENOUS FAMILY
USES AS MUCH OF A PART OF
ANIMALS FROM HUNTING
AS POSSIBLE.

Nam says MM-HMM. AND THAT ALSO
COMES INTO YOUR ART,
BECAUSE YOU ARE A HUNTER.
SO, THE WAY
YOU CREATE THINGS,
IT'S ALSO LIKE KNOWING
THE ANATOMY OF SOMETHING,
RIGHT?

Brian says YEAH, YEAH.
SO, I MADE, LIKE,
SOME OF THE...
I THINK THERE'S VIDEO FOOTAGE
IN THE ARCHIVE
AS PART OF THE EXHIBITION
WHERE A FRIEND
WITH HIS PHONE VIDEOTAPED ME
CUTTING UP A SNEAKER.
AND I DID IT QUITE QUICKLY,
AND HE SAID IT WAS LIKE
SKINNING A SALMON.
LIKE...
OR GUTTING A SALMON.

Kitty says AMAZING.
IT'S AMAZING.

Brian says 'CAUSE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT,
BUT IT WAS, LIKE, YEAH,
IT KIND OF IS, ACTUALLY.

(LAUGHING)

Nam says LAYERS AND LAYERS
OF IT.
WELL, WE ARE
RUNNING OUT OF TIME.
AND YOU KNOW,
JORDANS COME IN BOXES,
AND PEOPLE WHO COLLECT
THE JORDANS
ALSO COLLECT THE BOXES.
BUT YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE BOXES
ON DISPLAY AS WELL.

Kitty says YEAH.

Nam says AND THEY'RE FULL OF STUFF.
LIKE, WHAT'S IN THE BOXES?

A picture shows dozens of Nike Air Jordan boxes stacked up on display.

Kitty says WELL, THE CONTENTS
OF THE BOXES
ARE ON THE SCREENS
OF THE TELEVISIONS
THAT ARE IN THE ROOM,
AND THERE ARE ABOUT 3,500 IMAGES
OF THE CONTENTS OF THOSE BOXES.
WE HAVE, UH...
THERE'S, LIKE,
BEAUTIFUL THINGS...

Another picture shows the boxes with their lids off, containing different objects such as baseballs, threads, books and fabric.

Brian says THERE'S ALL SORTS OF STUFF.

Nam says AND IT'S STUFF
THAT YOU KEEP, RIGHT?

Brian says WELL, YEAH.
I MEAN, I'VE BEEN USING
THIS MATERIAL FOR 22 YEARS.
THE AIR JORDANS,
AND I HAVE MOST OF THE BOXES
STILL.
SO, I HAVE, LIKE, THOUSANDS.
AND I STARTED USING THEM
JUST TO STORE STUFF IN,
JUST LIKE EVERYBODY, YOU KNOW?
LIKE TAX RETURNS,
OR JEANS THAT DON'T FIT
OR WHATEVER.

Nam says THAT ONE DAY
WILL FIT.

Brian says YEAH.
(LAUGHING)
AND SO,
IT JUST BECAME MORE AND MORE OF
A MASS.
AND THEN WHEN I MOVED OUT
TO THE RANCH, I BUILT...
I DESIGNED A WALL
SO I COULD HAVE MOST OF THEM
ON DISPLAY, AND IT'S...
AS SOON AS KITTY SAW THAT,
MY ARCHIVE,
SHE REALLY WANTED TO
INVESTIGATE IT
AND MAKE IT PART OF
THE EXHIBITION.
BUT IT IS, LIKE...
IT IS A MIXTURE OF THINGS
THAT WERE INFLUENTIAL
BUT ALSO JUST, LIKE,
DETRITUS FROM MY LIFE.
THIS STUFF THAT I'VE KEPT
OVER THE YEARS.

Kitty says HIGHLY PERSONAL.

Nam says IT'S VERY PERSONAL,
RIGHT?

Kitty says YEAH.

Nam says AND KITTY, WHAT DO YOU HOPE
PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM
BRIAN'S EXHIBIT?

Kitty says WELL, I THINK, YOU KNOW,
THERE'S AN OPPORTUNITY HERE
FOR PEOPLE TO SEE THE BROAD
RANGE OF WORK THAT HE DOES,
AND HIS
REALLY COMPLEX UNDERSTANDING
OF THE OBJECTS
THAT HE WORKS WITH.
AND YOU KNOW, EVERYTHING
THAT HE'S DOING COMES FROM
SOME SORT OF INDIGENOUS FILTER,
BUT IT'S NOT THE BEADING WORK
WE KNOW.
IT'S NOT THE MOCCASINS.
IT'S NOT THE TOTEM POLES.
IT'S ACTUALLY
A WHOLE NEW LANGUAGE
THAT DRAWS ON
ALL OF THAT KNOWLEDGE
AND WAYS OF MAKING AND THINKING,
AND BRINGS FORWARD
A WHOLE NEW LANGUAGE
AND A WHOLE NEW WAY
OF MAKING ART
THAT I THINK IS
ABSOLUTELY EXCEPTIONAL
AND SOMETHING THAT EVERYBODY
CAN ACTUALLY ACCESS.
IT'S VERY ACCESSIBLE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Gregg Thurlbeck, @GreggThurlbeck."

Nam says I AGREE. KITTY AND BRIAN,
THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR BEING HERE.
IT'S BEEN AN ABSOLUTE
PLEASURE HAVING YOU HERE,
ESPECIALLY SINCE
THIS IS NOT SOMETHING
THAT YOU LIKE DOING.

Brian says OH.

(LAUGHING)

Nam says BUT YOU WERE
FANTASTIC.

Brian says I'M ALL RIGHT.
I'M BETTER AT IT.

(LAUGHING)

Nam says AND EVERYBODY AT HOME
SHOULD SEE IT.
AND GIVE YOURSELF
EXTRA TIME, BECAUSE
I THINK THERE'S A LOT
TO TAKE FROM EVERYTHING.
THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR BEING HERE.

Kitty says YOU'RE WELCOME.

Brian says THANK YOU.

Watch: When Consumerism and Art Collide