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Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism

Devoured by Consumerism is the last exhibition conceived by the late Kwakwaka’wakw artist, activist and chief, Beau Dick (1955–2017). By sharing works inspired by the Kwakwaka’wakw Winter Ceremonies, Dick hoped to spark change in a world he saw devouring itself under the ravenous pressures of capitalism.

Event/Exhibition meta autogenerated block.

Where

Remai Modern

Beau Dick, Devoured by Consumerism, Installation view, Remai Modern, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell

Featuring works from 1980–2016, Devoured by Consumerism explores the contrasts and connections between the Kwakwaka’wakw Winter Ceremonies and modern consumer culture. A host of compelling figures inhabit the exhibition, such as the supernatural cannibal birds, shape-shifter Otter Woman, and wild man and woman of the woods Bookwus and Tsonoqua. Through masks and sculptures inspired by his culture’s potlatch traditions, Beau Dick argues that these stories and practices contain profound understandings of balance, community responsibility, and personal transformation. Actively defying the accumulation of wealth and property, these contemporary potlatch works continue to disrupt their status as commodity and to challenge the boundaries of what is considered contemporary art.

Beau Dick, Devoured by Consumerism, Installation view, Remai Modern, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell
Beau Dick, Devoured by Consumerism, Installation view, Remai Modern, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell


The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, produced in collaboration with Figure 1. Publishing, Vancouver. Full colour photographs of Dick’s works are supported by contextual information and insights from his apprentices and friends. Essays by LaTiesha Fazakas, John Cussans and Candice Hopkins examine the continued impact of Beau Dick’s art and life.

Artist

Chief Beau Dick, Walas Gwa’yam (1955–2017), was a Kwakwaka’wakw (Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation) artist and activist who was acclaimed as one of the Northwest Coast’s most versatile and talented carvers. He was born in the community of Alert Bay, B.C., and lived in Kingcome Inlet, Vancouver, and Victoria before returning to Alert Bay to live and work. He began carving at an early age, studying under his father, Benjamin Dick, his grandfather, James Dick, and other renowned artists such as Henry Hunt and Doug Cranmer. He also worked alongside master carvers Robert Davidson, Tony Hunt, and Bill Reid.

In support of the Idle No More movement, Dick performed two spiritual and political Copper-breaking ceremonies on the steps of the British Columbia legislature in Victoria in 2013, and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in 2014. Dick created several important public works, including a transformation mask for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 86 in Vancouver and the Ga’akstalas Totem Pole for Stanley Park, carved with Wayne Alfred and raised in 1991.

Beau Dick, Devoured by Consumerism, Installation view, Remai Modern, 2019. Photo: Blaine Campbell


His work has been shown in exhibitions around the world, including at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, B.C. (1976); Canada House, London, UK (1998); the 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2010); and documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany (2017). He was the recipient of the 2012 VIVA Award and was artist-in-residence at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory from 2013 to 2017.

Curatorial Team

Beau Dick: Devoured by Consumerism was conceived by Beau Dick and LaTiesha Fazakas, and is organized by Fazakas Gallery. The exhibition debuted at White Columns, New York, March 15 – May 4, 2019. Remai Modern’s presentation is organized by Rose Bouthillier, Curator (Exhibitions).