Indigo Griots: Tales of an urban dyer – Montréal
Valérie d. Walker presents a large scale, immersive, labyrinthine installation of Indigo hand-dyed, fibre-based panels embedded with layered meanings. Within the labyrinth, visitors will trigger and change projections, onto cloth of looped video extracts, such as the Minneapolis Indigo Griots event (featuring shakuhachi flute solos and griot tellings by Douglas Ewart) combined with Montréal Indigo Griots moments.
What is a Griot? ( gree-oh!): a noun
Griot is a western African word for a traveling poet, performer, musician or storyteller whose recognized function is to keep & perpetuate the oral traditions and history of a village or family. Traditionally this oral history was the cultural knowledge repository of a community. In the Mali Empire’s Mande Society this role is called jali
The Indigo Griots… Montréal labyrinth is a physical installation containing experiential moments of story-sharing, merging tactile and video forms of indigo inspirations. The labyrinth spirals around the space, covering ~2,000 ft2 of gallery, reaching over 14 feet high. Layered Indigo patterned cloth-panels evoking memories of movement in and on water lead the visitor deep into an obsession with Indigo-Magic; a sensorial, haptic, meta-language surrounds and guides us through the maze.
Indigo layers create an immersive, tactile exploration of identity, social and environmental concerns undulating through the gallery. As the visitor moves along the spiraling path she/he is drawn towards the sounds of a bamboo flute, hands clapping, voices: singing, laughing, speaking of colors…, eventually one finds the heart of the labyrinth where projections onto neo-fibre of looped video extracts from the Minneapolis Indigo Griots performance combine with Montréal Indigo Griots physicality.
the repetition of creating nearly identical knots, or textures, then repeatedly dipping and massaging the fibres in an Indigo dye vat. This process serves to embed memory into the fibres. Squeezing and impressing a time-based narrative through pressure, embossing dimensional motifs in a tactile language.
This performative, inter-media installation explores the power of tactile story telling and indigo-based alchemy to hold cultural and individual memories.
Indigo is the blue power of Earth, a deity, a legend in our collective memory, a She-ro*. Indigo alchemy blends ashen residues of fire, composted plant cakes, water and transforms then into the colour of the sky. As Griots, we will share stories of magic, of Urban North Americans, Multi-Cultural artists chanting songs of community, transformation and joy.
* She-ro: a female hero who is able to be seen & behave as a human with heroine-ic qualities.