WAG Brings Land Issues to the Forefront with Pair of Boarding Exhibits

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty 1, November 18, 2016: The Winnipeg Art Gallery is proud to present Boarder X and Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant, two exhibitions demonstrating how Indigenous art, culture, and land intersect. Boarder X reveals skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing as vehicles that challenge conformity and status quo. Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant, organized by the National Gallery of Canada, connects surfboards and video to Australian Aboriginal territory. Both exhibitions open tonight with a free event at 7:00pm that will see a half-pipe in the Gallery and skateboarding demonstrations by Red Riding Media. Exhibitions are on view until spring 2017.

“The Winnipeg Art Gallery is working to embrace reconciliation, Indigenous communities, and their art,” states Dr. Stephen Borys, WAG Director & CEO. “Boarder X and Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant support this mission by promoting a greater understanding of Indigenous culture, while tapping into the energy of boarding.”

Boarder X features work by contemporary artists from Indigenous nations across Canada: Jordan Bennett, Roger Crait, Steven Davies, Mark Igloliorte, Mason Mashon, Meghann O’Brien, and Les Ramsay. The exhibition reflects cultural, political, environmental, and social perspectives related to the landscapes and territories we occupy. Examining contested spaces, political borders, hybrid identities, and traditional lands, the artwork draws parallels to urban areas prohibiting skateboarding, ski runs unwelcome to snowboarders, and surfers’ constant search for uncrowded waves.

Presented alongside Boarder X, Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant connects Indigenous identities to disputed territory around Australia’s beaches as it relates to ownership, conflict, and land claims. Ah Kee’s boards incorporate traditional shield designs in the colours of the Australian Aboriginal flag, and on the flip side, beautifully drawn portraits of family. The critically acclaimed work was selected as Australia’s entry to the 2009 Venice Biennale.

Both exhibitions are curated by Jaimie Isaac, the WAG’s Canada Council Curatorial Resident of Indigenous & Contemporary Art, who herself enjoys snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing. “Boarder X has created a space for active engagement through art, culture, and boarding at the WAG,” says Isaac. “The interdisciplinary art produced embodies how the artists relate to the environment and cultural landscapes. Working with these artists and Vans has been an amazing experience.”

Launched in 2013, the NGC@WAG partnership has resulted in the production of over ten exhibitions, bringing to Winnipeg some of the finest works from the national collection.

In conjunction with Boarder X and Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant, the public is invited to attend a round table conversation on November 19 at 3:00pm with Boarder X artists, moderated by Jaimie Isaac. The afternoon also features a talk with Michael Langan, founder of Colonialism Skateboards. An online catalogue with blogs posted throughout the run of the exhibitions can be followed at boarderx.wag.ca.

Art for Lunch includes a free screening of two short documentaries on November 23 and a talk with Isaac on January 25. Feast, a Surf & Turf dinner-and-tour of Boarder X and Vernon Ah Kee: cantchant, is planned for February 16 with tickets available at wag.ca/events.

Guided drop-in tours are also offered free with Gallery admission on November 26; December 4, 17; January 8, 21, and 29, and more dates listed at wag.ca. The November 27 Family Fusion day from 1:00-3:00pm features a mini-skateboard workshop showing participants how to add custom touches with colourful markers and beautiful beads. A free film night on March 3 of The Legend of Eddie Aikau will be presented, as well as a Boarder X film festival full of snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing films and documentaries from March 31-April 1.

The WAG is grateful for the support of the National Gallery of Canada; Canada Council for the Arts; Vans, a division of VF Outdoor Canada Company; The Dorothy Strelsin Foundation; The Graham C. Lout Family Foundation; The Mauro Family Foundation Inc.; media sponsor Winnipeg Free Press; and creative partner Visual Lizard.

Visit boarderx.wag.ca, and for the latest updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. #Xarticles


The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate – a lens and forum – helping people see and experience more through art. Playing a vital role in the community, engaging and enriching people of all ages and backgrounds through art and culture, the Winnipeg Art Gallery thrives as a creative, innovative, and accessible place for learning, discovery, and inspiration.


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WAG-Qaumajuq is located on Treaty No. 1 the original lands and waters of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininiwak, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.
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