Erin Genia: Mitakuye Oyasin/ We Are All Related

Erin Genia, Mitakuye Oyasin/ We Are All Related, Venice Biennale, 2018. Photo by the artist's son.
ACT at MIT

On November 24, 2018, ACT Graduate Student Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) gave a performance at the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. This program was a part of the Citizen Lab programming series and took place in the US Pavilion courtyard.

Mitakuye Oyasin/ We Are All Related was a ceremonial performance centered on healing, finding lost cultural knowledge, and telling the story of climate change through the lens of the Dakota legend of the Wakinyan/ Thunderbirds and Unktehi/ Water Serpent spirits. The epic battle between these supernatural beings is a way of describing the catastrophic effects of climate change through Indigenous knowledge.

The power of Dakota language, oral tradition, dance, and creative and artistic processes–which have been obscured through centuries of US policies of genocide and assimilation of Indigenous people–were expressed to call for a profound shift in the evolution of humanity towards a creative, holistic consciousness.

By connecting the concepts of body outward to the cosmos through the sound of the drum, movement, and burning medicines, the ancestors and spirit world were invited to participate in a symbolic healing of the courtyard site of the US Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice follows various strands, merging cultural imperatives, pure expression, and exploration of materiality, with a response to past, present, and future matters. Erin is concerned with creating a powerful presence of Indigeneity in the arts and sciences to invoke an evolution of thought and practice in societal instruments that are aligned with the cycles of the natural world and the potential of humanity.

Erin is a graduate student in the Art, Culture and Technology program at MIT and studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts and The Evergreen State College. Her work has received attention from diverse audiences, and been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently at the Swamp Pavilion, Lithuania Pavilion, La Biennale Architettura di Venezia 2018, the Harvard Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Northwest Art. Erin was awarded the AAF/ Seebacher Prize for Fine Arts in 2018 and received her first public art commission for “Resilience: Anpa O Wicahnpi” from the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She is a 2017 First Peoples Fund fellow.