Manuel Axel Strain
January 28 – March 18, 2023
Reception: January 28, 7 – 9 pm
Through familial collaborations threshold commemorates intuitive acts that engage specific fragments of knowledge from the artist’s communities. Manuel Axel Strain draws on states of remembrance through family photographs and installations using various coded materials, imagery, and visual cultures. The objects displayed can become physical embodiments of Strain’s communal and ancestral knowledge, and as witnesses, we arrive at the threshold of the artist’s experiences at once ambiguous and invitational. The focus on the existence of a threshold, one that might be crossed over or left honoured, prioritizing personal realities, positioning us to an edge of our own and the meeting place of another’s. Through the creation of a physical and psychological threshold, the exhibition generates an appreciation of experiences and memories that exists beyond the settler colonial perspective, without the need to fully comprehend, intrude, or possess.
Manuel Axel Strain is a 2-Spirit artist from the lands and waters of the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Simpcw and Syilx peoples, based in the sacred region of their q̓ic̓əy̓(Katzie) and qʼʷa:n̓ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen) relatives. Strain’s mother is Tracey Strain and father is Eric Strain, Tracey’s parents are Harold Eustache (from Chuchua) and Marie Louis (from nk̓maplqs), Eric’s Parents are Helen Point (from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) and John Strain (from Ireland). Although they attended Emily Carr University of Art + Design they prioritize Indigenous epistemologies through the embodied knowledge of their mother, father, siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents and ancestors.
Creating artwork in collaboration with and reference to their relatives, their shared experiences become a source of agency that resonates through their work with performance, land, painting, sculpture, photography, video, sound and installation. Their artworks often envelop subjects in relation with ancestral and community ties, Indigeneity, labour, resource extraction, gender, Indigenous medicine and life forces. Strain often perceives their work to confront and undermine the imposed realities of colonialism. Proposing a new space beyond its oppressive systems of power. They have contributed work to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Surrey Art Gallery, the UBCO Fina gallery. They were longlisted for the 2022 Sobey Award and were a recipient of the 2022 Portfolio Prize.
Image Credit: Nasim Pirhadi