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First Nations Exhibition, Royal British Columbia Museum, Canada: Language, Totems and lighting

Whilst walking around the first nation exhibition In Victoria, BC my eyes gravitate toward three glass vitrines. Sheets of glass separate me and the cultural artefact inside, I am aware that separated by the glass, the contents of the vitrine is distinctly 'other'. In the right vitrine, majestically held on top of a plinth: a Canadian First Nation baby carrier made from soft white materials. What catches my attention most is the striking purple and blue electric die that soaks the fabric. This stunning splash of colour makes the baby carrier magical and alluring. my nose touching the glass I stare at the deep colours. For a moment I am convinced that the First Nation designed the carrier to exude such colours yet on closer inspection I realise that the colour comes from a light projection above the vitrine. I verify by tiptoeing and waving my hand over the case. In this moment I feel a tension arise as I question the politics of the artefacts acquisition, presentation and representation and I wonder why the institution and lighting designer have decided to light the objects up with startling, trippy and exotic glow that ends up distorting the character of the original piece. Unfortunately I do not have an image of the artefact.

I specifically enjoyed the entrance hall to the first nations exhibition as it has such an emphasis on the language of the people and their fight to save it. I reflected about the importance of a native language, the methods that are iomplemented as an attempts to save it and the political importance it has.

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