Cheryl L’Hirondelle

Cheryl L'Hirondrelle

Photo: Nadya Kwandibens, 2008

Cheryl L'Hirondelle

Vancouver, BC

Presenting as part of the session:  Lasting Impressions: Ephemeral Artworks in the City  - Saturday, November 6 at 3:00 pm

Cheryl L’Hirondelle(aka Waynohtêw, Cheryl Koprek) is a nomadic mixed-blood multi and interdisciplinary artist, singer/songwriter and curator. Her creative practice is an investigation of the junction of a cree worldview (nêhiyawin) in contemporary time and space.

In 2004, L’Hirondelle was one of the first Aboriginal artists from this land now known as Canada to be invited to present her new media work at DAK’ART Lab, part of the 6th Edition of the Dakar Biennale for Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal. In both 2005 and 2006, L’Hirondelle was the recipient of the imagineNATIVE New Media Award for her online projects: treatycard, 17:TELL & wêpinâsowina. Her 2008 interdisciplinary project nikamon ohci askiy (songs because of the land), was recognized as an honoree in the Net.Art category of the 13th Annual Webby Awards. In 2009 she was curator of Codetalkers of the Digital Divide (or why we didn’t become ‘roadkill on the information superhighway’) and new media advisor for imagineNATIVE Film + Media Festival’s 10th Anniversary.

Cheryl is currently working on a Toronto version of her Songlines project and is in production on a new project entitled NDNSPAM Celebrity Edition Cookbook. In addition, she is also curating another new media exhibition for the 2010 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Festival entitled RE:counting coup.


Description of Cheryl L'Hirondelle's talk:

Nikamon ohci askiy : songs because of the land

Cree worldview (nêhiyawin) is land-based and also intrinsically related with sound and identity. To speak the language means to sound the worldview. One definition of what ‘nêhiyaw’ means is to be four-directional, so it is feasible to imagine a process of ‘sounding’ into one’s environment to achieve a very dynamic sense of groundedness and place. Songlines is the method of mapping the land melodically, lyrically and rhythmically – practiced by many indigenous people around the world since time immemorial.

Pre-contact, indigenous people from this land now known as Canada traveled extensively, having much larger territories than current day reserves and settlements. These lands would be seasonally traversed, tracking animals, gathering plants for sustenance and finding shelter and places to camp to endure the extremes the seasons offered. There were places within these territories that were gathering sites, some for trade and others for ceremony. With the onslaught of newcomers to this land, forts and settlements were strategically situated where indigenous people naturally congregated. These places have grown into the many North American cities we know today.

Many of these cities share similar architectural aesthetics and planning systems. The materials to construct buildings are largely no longer regionally derived, yet these structures eventually become part of the land and create sonic corridors and new avenues for travel.

With our relationship to the land shifting, so too has our ability to how we listen to and understand the land changed. Though we may have a genetic memory of how things were done, sometimes we’ve forgotten why or the deep layers of intent that made the activity so robust a part of our responsibility in keeping the world turning. Louis Riel said, "My people will sleep for one hundred years when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back." It seems that it is the artists and musicians who are tapping into these ancient modus operandi and bringing back ways of relating to the world around us.

Cheryl L’Hirondelle will speak about her current contemporary audio mapping/songwriting of Vancouver and Toronto on this land now known as Canada and share insights and anecdotes from this meaningful performative, musical and sonic activity.


Go Back