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‘You just censored two native artists’: Art as antidote, resisting the Vancouver Olympics

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This article theorizes resistance in the context of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Drawing on the work of Powhatan-Renapé and Lenape scholar Jack Forbes, this article situates anti-Olympic resistance within the context of struggles against what Forbes refers to as ‘wétiko psychosis’. As a kind of psycho-social illness, wétiko psychosis speaks to the pervasive capitalism at work within the Olympic machine and Indigenous relationships to capitalism and the Games. In turn, it then considers the role of art, in particular the image of the thunderbird created by Kwakwakwa’kw artist and activist Gord Hill and TsuuT’ina/Nak’azdli artist and activist Riel Manywounds, in the landscape of anti-Olympic resistance. This article argues that the thunderbird stands is both an antidote and vaccination for the kinds of consumptive sickness contemporary Olympics are plagued with. Lastly, I discuss how the thunderbird’s visual presence in the Olympic archive further reinforces its power.
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Keywords: Aboriginal; Indigenous; Olympics; environment; protest; resistance; visual art

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Carleton University

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • PUBLIC is a beautifully designed peer-reviewed journal founded in Toronto as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how theoretical, and critical issues intersect with art and visual culture. Each issue's editors explore a contemporary theme by bringing together a unique assemblage of Canadian and international art projects with writing by scholars, curators, critics, and artists. This, along with book and exhibit reviews, creates an assemblage of artists projects and original writing on prescient contemporary themes in art and culture.
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