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Sonny Assu: Longing

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Longing is an installation of innovative, new work by Vancouver-based artist Sonny Assu composed of sculptures and photographs. The sculptures are found objects now displayed conceptually as "masks". As found objects, they provide the core focus of the investigation undertaken by the artist. Within this context, found is juxtaposed to lost, or an art and culture altered or displaced by conditions of colonialism and European settlement. The artist used longing to suggest a history reexamined and reclaimed.

The photographs show the “masks” in situ within three sites, which characterize the collecting and marketing of Northwest Coast art: as artifacts in the visible storage area of an ethnographic museum, as fine art in an exhibition of aesthetic objects in a commercial gallery, and the tourist shop emphasizing curiosities, souvenirs or keepsakes to take home.

Vancouver-based artist Sonny Assu is Laich-kwil-tach (Kwakwaka’wakw) of the Weka’yi  First Nation of Cape Mudge, Vancouver Island. Assu’s work has been featured in several notable group exhibits over the past years, How Soon is Now?, Vancouver Art Gallery; Comic Relief, National Gallery of Canada; Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast; McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation Part 2, Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. A recent solo exhibit, Sonny Assu: As Defined Within the Indian Act, was held at the Belkin Satellite Gallery, Vancouver. Assu’s work is in the collection of the National Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, and in public and private collections across Canada and the United States. The artist is represented by the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. 

This exhibition is guest-curated by Petra Watson and made possible with financial support from the Audain Foundation.

Please visit the Shop for a copy of the Museum's publication of Sonny Assu: Longing.