Anthropography: Three Contemporary Perspectives

Anthropography: Three Contemporary Perspectives brings together three Acadian artists who explore perceived and
documented Acadian history in relation to other cultures. The term anthropography refers to the branch of anthropology
concerned with aspects such as the physical character, language, customs and distribution of the human race. The chosen
work in this exhibition poses an insightful examination of Acadie through questions of identity, language, history and fiction.
The print-based installation Sanguine, Burnt Umber and Other Sorrows by Maryse Arseneault reflects on the blending of
Acadian and Mi’kmaq cultures — a subject that became taboo after the great upheaval (the Acadian deportation). Through an
image search, Arseneault printed 880 period Mi’kmaq portraits. These images as postcards are silkscreened upon with an
eight-pointed star, a Mi’kmaq symbol for the sun that also appears in Acadian quilt making. This star halo or mask represents
the all-too-forgotten alliances and the fact that they are genetically linked. In a poetic effort to rekindle relationships, Arseneault
will be sending some hundred postcards from Acadie to the far end of the Americas to First Nations representatives.
Mathieu Léger’s On a Silver Platter is a series of engraved silver plates that speaks to the conflicts between the British and the
Acadians and how those impacts continue to resonate in modern-day Acadie. The platters, most often associated with British
aristocracy, have ironically become inexpensive objects in thrift stores. Léger reappropriates the silverware as templates for
his text-based practice by inserting new meaning and creating contrast between the container and its content: British utilitarian
culture as a vessel for Acadian perspectives. Some plates address the impacts on the ever-changing Acadian geographic
landscape, some reference storied genealogy, while others directly illustrate the impact on the inherited Chiac dialect. On a
Silver Platter commemorates Acadian folklore past and present.
The video installation Please Remember Me sees Stefan St-Laurent portray a stereotypical male country singer in a montage
that is made to appear like the music video from the would-be soundtrack to the 1929 movie Évangéline. This movie by
American film maker Edwin Carewe is based on the familiar story of lost and reunited love told by the American poet Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1847 poem entitled Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. In a cowboy hat and Wrangler jeans, StLaurent lip-syncs to the Tim McGraw love song on a Southern-style veranda, accented by perennials and framed by a white
picket fence:
You’ll find better love
Strong as it ever was
Deep as the river runs
Warm as the morning sun
Please remember me
These lyrics not only add ambiance to the footage of Évangéline and Gabriel engaging in a dramatic reunion, but they can be
equally applied to Acadian culture and history with regard to Évangéline’s legend of faith. Longfellow’s Évangéline was
constructed from numerous life stories, building a created identity that eventually became a romanticized and commodified
icon. Although she is a fictitious symbol created and immortalized by American culture, she signifies hope and courage to
persevere through troubled times. Acadians, wherever they are, remember Acadie.

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