The Sàmi artist-architect Joar Nango and film director Ken Are Bongo map Toronto’s ravines for the sixth episode of Nango’s expanded television series Post-Capitalist Architecture-TV. Nango and Bongo film a roaming, site-responsive, live-streamed episode from various locations in the urban wilderness — from the Don River to Black Creek — complete with itinerant, improvisational structures built using foraged and reclaimed materials gathered from Toronto’s ravine system. The series began in 2020 when the artist toured across Norway’s north with a roving television studio in a cargo van, speaking with scholars, makers, and activists about the relationship between Indigenous cultures and space. The sixth installment On the Ravines follows its predecessors in its variety show-like format, inviting guests planned and impromptu into Nango’s televised world.
Providing the thematic video program with a fresh and new ecological setting in the Don Valley, Nango and his collaborators, continue to delve into concepts such as “indigenuity” — the artist’s portmanteau of “Indigenous” and “ingenuity.” Nango’s practice centres on playful and creative exploration with the world around us while weaving in holistic ideas of reuse and innovation. According to the artist, this idea is a “cultural attitude of building/design traditions that exists within many northern Indigenous cultures where resources are scarce and the climate unpredictable, harsh, and unmerciful”. Found and repurposed materials are at the core of Nango’s makeshift aesthetic, at once working with and responding to what is immediately available in the sites where his projects live.
For On the Ravines, Nango transports this visual language to a screening of the television series in the Don Valley on the unceded homelands of the Wyandot, Haudenosaunee, and Anishnaabek Confederacies. He is curious about the way in which urban impositions on the land and waterways now co-exist on Indigenous territories. Leading viewers, live audience members, and passersby to a screening of the new episode at dusk in situ along the Lower Don Trail, Nango and Bongo present natural and human-made sights and sounds, where an urban highway enmeshes with parklands along a river straightened and shaped by settler-colonial industry. These multiple histories come together in a complex space shaped by time, offering participants a moment in which to sit and consider humanity’s imprints on the earth. As the artist says, “space in itself is a language,” so perhaps we might lend it an ear as Nango does.
Joar Nango (Sámi, born in 1979, Áltá, Norway) is a process-based artist-architect, working within the provisional nature of sculpture, performance, and architecture. Embedded in Nango’s approach to artmaking is the proliferation of Indigenous history, people, and ways of life. Nango’s research begins socially and then builds into a sharing of skills and the development of platforms for knowledge sharing. This process has a materiality that is about accumulating objects and skills that accrue as the artist meets various individuals and gains knowledge of local communities. Nango has exhibited widely, most recently presenting a large-scale solo exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, Norway. He has participated in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada, Tensta konsthall, Chicago Architecture Biennial, and documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens.
Ken Are Bongo (Sámi) is a film director, cinematographer, and editor. He comes from a Sámi village Guovdageaidnu and graduated from Nordland Art and Film School in Kabelvåg. He has been working in film and television since 2006, and recently produced the short fictional film Wolf (2018) which premiered at the Reykjavík International Film Festival. Other credits include an episode of the mini-series Hvem ringer? (2020); and the film shorts Ara Marumaru (2018) and Biegga savkala duoddariid duohken lea soames (2007).
Co-commission by Evergreen with