Acclaimed Haida Manga artist, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, pushes the boundaries of the art world by challenging the divide between contemporary and so-called "Native Art".
Directed by Gillian Darling
Produced by Gillian Darling
Executive Producer: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas
Associate Producer: Eliot Galán
Writer: Gillian Darling
Cinematographer, Picture & Sound Editor: Eliot Galán
Original Music: Keigh
A Gillian Darling Film Services Production
With humour, kinetic innovation and expansion of traditional and contemporary forms, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas directly confronts the tension between contemporary and so-called "Native Art," which he identifies as arising from a legacy of historic racism that persists within and beyond the Western Art World. Drawing from influences on both shores of the North Pacific and his place in today's world, Yahgulanaas's work addresses the seminal issues of our time.
"A compact but magnificent preface to the universe of Northwest Coast traditional art...An absolute gem." Peter Nabokov, World Arts & Cultures, UCLA
MEDDLE captures Yahgulanaas`s artistic process and philosophy as he creates a re-purposed, car-hood art piece for the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC, expanding his "Coppers from the Hood" series. Individual pieces from this series are now in the permanent collections of the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Peabody Essex Museum, Glenbow, and the Denver Art Museum.
Grade Level: 4 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2023
Copyright Date: 2020
DVD ISBN: 1-961192-05-5
"This wonderful film is itself a visual and verbal poem. It integrates Yahgulanaas' eloquent words about his creative process, the elegance of his art, and an inventive use of film. But it is more than a celebration of artistry. In a decolonizing action, Yahgulanaas juxtaposes his innovative Indigenous artwork with two plaques - one provincial, the other federal - that had been installed in 1976 to celebrate the Museum of Anthropology's opening. Meddle beautifully demonstrates the capacity of art to challenge the historic dominance of settler society."
Aldona Jonaitis, Director Emerita, Museum of the North, University of Alaska, Author, Art of the Northwest Coast
"With his characteristic wit and dynamism, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas offers a glimpse into the poetry, politics, and process of his artmaking as a form of serious play. His Coppers in the Hood situate the museum and art world within intersecting legacies of colonialism, climate change, and cultural transformation. In this short film, Yahgulanaas draws the viewer into the series, tacking between the local and the global, the moment and the timeless, the handmade and the industrial, the Haida and the human."
Aaron Glass, Professor of Anthropology, Museum Studies, and Indigenous Arts, Bard Graduate Center, Bard College
"A compact but magnificent preface to the universe of Northwest Coast traditional art. The artist's sophisticated statements and contemporary applications of that art will keep viewers at the edge of their seats, excited what they're going to hear and see next. I will watch this film a dozen times for both its ability to delight, inform and amaze all at once, and then watch it again. Wisdom lies within this copper hood, and within what Yahgulanaas has to share with us. An absolute gem."
Peter Nabokov, Professor Emeritus of World Arts and Cultures, University of California - Los Angeles, Author, A Forest of Time: American Indian Ways of History
"Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is always a treat to listen to - he is both philosophical and grounded in the moment. This film brings out his voice and provides a personal reflection on how one artist can Meddle in the Museum and provide an intervention into questions of authority, materials and meaning. His enthusiasm and joy for the artistic process comes through with an invitation for all of us to Meddle in some of the great environmental and social questions challenging us today."
Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse, Director, Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, Associate Professor of Native Art, University of Washington
"A highly unconventional documentary about a surprisingly unconventional Native art work by a resoundingly unconventional Haida artist, Meddle gives voice to the brilliant intervention of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and his commission for the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Using a multiscreen format of exquisite footage to evoke the multiplicity of landscapes, cultures and timeframes referenced in Yahgulanaas' Coppers from the Hood, this short film shares a breadth and depth of perspectives about contemporary art that warrant greater recognition and celebration."
Mark Dean Johnson, Professor of Art, San Francisco State University
"In this documentary, Haida artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas redefines the word meddle. From a word that excludes people to a word that is now a call to action, Meddle is not only visually enticing but an important addition to the growing body of work that is grounded in Indigenous methodologies. Visually enticing, creative and inclusive."
Melissa Leal, Esselen/Ohlone, Professor of Ethnic Studies, Sierra College
"Pairing Yahgulanaas' words with images of urban and natural places in the Pacific Northwest, Meddle asserts the need for the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in our response to the current environmental crisis. It describes the development of the series Coppers in the Hood through his deep connection to place, material and history. The film is a beautiful record of the artistic process and a testament to the vital role played by artists as we work to envision the future of the planet."
Elizabeth Hutchinson, Associate Professor of American Art History, Barnard College, Columbia University
DVDs include public performance rights.
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas's website is full of interesting information about his work, his life, and his philosophy. Also includes interviews and a TED talk.
Awards and Festivals
Best Fine Art Documentary, Alexandre Trauner ART/Film Festival
Special Festival Award, Special Artist Recognition Award, ArteNonStop Buenos Aires Film Festival
Best Documentary Short, Dreamachine International Film Festival
Finalist, International Fine Arts Film Festival
American Indian Film Festival
Master of Art Film Festival
NorthWestFest International Documentary Film Festival
Alibag Short Film Festival
Amerta Film Festival
Film Arte Festival
Goa Short Film Festival
Pune Short Film Festival
Vancouver Short Film Festival
New Renaissance Film Festival
Raleigh Film Festival
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