Courtesy of the artist.

Magna Mater

S.J Norman

In Magna Mater, twelve Indigenous men, masculine-spectrum, or assigned male at birth people with whom S.J Norman is in kinship commit to having their hair brushed, 100 strokes each day over the course of the same moon cycle. This action is performed either by the subjects themselves, or by a person they nominate as an important caregiver in their life, family, or community.  Each performer’s commitment to this daily gesture is documented using the the most readily available technology- their phone. Mapping a vast and growing network of queer, First Nations inter-connectedness that spans continents, cultures, and ancestral temporalities, this video and performance installation dissolves the colonial violence that modifies and regulates Indigenous bodies and replaces it with tenderness, cultural reclamation, and mutual care.

Building on S.J Norman’s practice of performance rituals that decolonize and empower First Nations’ bodies, Magna Mater includes performers from Australia, Aotearoa, the Pacific, and the North and South American continents whom Norman has grown kinship with over years of his artistic practice. Traces of each performance are collected and included in the installation: material manifestations of the network’s ephemeral yet deeply embodied connection.

From Fusebox Artist S.J Norman (Koori, Wiradjuri descent) recently collaboratively curated Knowledge of Wounds with Joseph M. Pierce (Cherokee Nation), a program at Performance Space New York. The two-day event  highlighted knowledge sharing, and exchange between Native and diasporic peoples from multiple regions. For the festival, they will once again be in collaboration with a series of Indigenous collaborators across Mexico and the United States, who will be part of creating new gallery installation and durational performance.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

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