Ninga Mìnèh

Solo Exhibition
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts - Montreal, QC 
Apr 20 - Aug 1, 2021

Monnet’s recent creations, presented for the first time in Ninga Mìnèh (“the promise,” in Anishinaabe), underscore—metaphorically yet concretely—the harsh living conditions the government of Canada forced on Indigenous peoples by virtue of the Indian Act passed in 1876. In the 1930s, in the depths of the Depression, the government began to strip Indigenous peoples of what little autonomy they still had in terms of building their own homes. The reserve system was extended across the country, accompanied by increasingly restrictive legislation governing the choice of designs, materials and construction for their dwellings.

Reserve housing has been for the most part hastily built with poor government-prescribed materials, and often no access to running water. The outsides of such dwellings still look like unfinished constructions. Families live in cramped conditions and are regularly afflicted by diverse physical and psychological complications. 

Monnet devised Ninga Mìnèh as a manifesto to highlight such living conditions, which continue to persist in 2021, and to foster a radical shift in paradigm that would allow First Nations a way out of these systemically constructed ghettos. To convey the egregious situation, she creates her works with building materials such as Tyvek, tar paper and insulating membranes. Despite their rawness, Monnet produces immensely poetic and aesthetically striking works embellished with flamboyantly colourful embroidery and motifs inspired by traditional Anishinaabe iconography.

Curator: Sylvie Lacerte

Caroline Monnet thanks the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Montréal for their financial support. She is laureate of the 2020 Pierre-Ayot Award, presented annually by the City of Montreal in collaboration with the Association of Contemporary Art Galleries.

Photos: MMFA, Denis Farley

It Cracks with Light, 2021
Steel, polystyrene foam, insulating panel, pressed wood, gypsum board
244 x 216 x 337 cm

Exhibition view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2021 

Memories Unravelled, 2021
Embroidery on synthetic roofing felt
124.5 x 245.1 x 7.6 cm

Collection: Indigenous Art Centre, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Government of Canada

Nimbus 01-06, 2021
Embroidery on waterproofing membrane
29.2 x 29.2 x 3.8 cm

Resilient to the Bones (detail), 2021
Polystyrene foam
185.4 x 246.4 x 9.5 cm

We Shape Our Homes and Then Our Homes Shape Us, 2021
Embroidery on sill gasket
154.9 x 154.9 x 7.6 cm

Cladding 01 - 02, 2021
Embroidery on waterproof tarpaulin
82.6 x 82.6 x 5.1 cm

Mapping the Underground, 2021
Silkscreen on waterproofing membrane
129.5 x 102.9 cm (each)

Piwanego/Noogom (Long Ago/Now), 2021
3 embroidered bags, sand from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg
Variable dimensions

AKI (Land), 2021
Glass wool and Plexiglas
104 x 168.9 x 20.3 cm

Pikogan (Shelter), 2021
Reticulated polyethylene pipes, PVC conduits, copper, Velcro, steel
304.8 x 487.7 cm

Havoc, 2021
Mould on gypsum board
33.7 x 33.7 x 5.1 cm (each)

Havoc (detail)

The Future Left Behind, 2021
Air barrier membrane sewn on fabric
306.7 x 154 x 17.8 cm

The Future Left Behind (detail)