Ne:Kahwistará:ken Kanónhsa’kówa í:se Onkwehonwe
2022–24 CAST Visiting Artist Grant
Addressing questions of identity, the body, heritage, ancestry, and technology from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective
The Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab and Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) artist and scholar Jackson 2bears Leween (and member of the MIT Indigenous Digital Delegation 2020), continue their work together on his new artistic project Ne:Kahwistará:ken Kanónhsa’kówa í:se Onkwehonwe.
Working in community in his home territory of Six Nations, 2bears is creating a site-specific large-scale multimedia artwork, created in the spirit and image of a Haudenosaunee longhouse, as a communal virtual experience. 2bears is using his residency with Co-Creation Studio and CAST to explore creating a VR space without headsets.
“The longhouse is an enduring symbol of the strength of our Rotinonshonni (Iroquois Confederacy), as it signifies a way of living together as a League of Nations under the Great Law of Peace—the Kayanereh’kowa. Our enduring sense of community is mirrored in the longhouse structure; it is emblematic of our diverse creative and cultural practices, which are connected back to our traditional teachings as much as they are today animated by contemporary technologies and production techniques,” says 2bears.
Public Presentation of Ne:Kahwistará:ken Kanónhsa’kówa í:se Onkwehonwe
Co-Creation Studio Indigenous Immersive Incubator
April 26 and 27, 2023
MIT Open Documentary Lab
An historic delegation of 10 Indigenous artists and advisors gathered to share their work with each other and with the MIT community. The theme of the ISO Indigenous Incubator at MIT gathering was “Indigenous Knowledge and Immersive Technologies.”
Led by the Indigenous Screen Office (ISO) of Canada and hosted by the Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab, the group incubated their own immersive media projects, toured various MIT labs, and met with Indigenous leaders from MIT and across the territory over four days.
Jackson 2bears Leween is a Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) multimedia installation/performance artist and cultural theorist from Six Nations and Tyendinaga. Since 1999, he has exhibited his work across Canada and internationally in public galleries, museums, artist-run centers, festivals, and group exhibitions. 2bears is an active researcher of digital media with a focus on embodied interaction, live audio/visual performance, and immersive multimedia installation. His recent works focus on how the changing impacts of technology have a profound effect on contemporary politics, culture, and society—particularly with regard to First Nations communities.
Katerina Cizek is an Emmy- and Peabody-winning documentarian, author, and producer working with emergent technologies and collective processes. She is the artistic director, co-founder, and executive producer of the Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab. She co-wrote Collective Wisdom (with Uricchio et al.),launching in fall 2022 with MIT Press. For over a decade, Cizek worked as a documentary director at the National Film Board of Canada, transforming the organization into a world leader of digital storytelling with the projects HIGHRISE and Filmmaker-in-Residence.
As director of the MIT Open Documentary Lab, Sarah Wolozin develops and oversees lab projects, operations, and collaborations with leading media organizations, including Sundance Institute, Tribeca Film Institute, IDFA DocLab, and National Film Board of Canada. She is the founder and editorial director of Docubase, an online curated database of the people, projects, and technologies transforming documentary in the digital age.
MIT Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies/Writing Vivek Bald is a scholar, writer, and documentary filmmaker whose work focuses on histories of migration and diaspora, particularly from the South Asian subcontinent. He is the author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America, and his films include Taxi-vala/Auto-biography (1994) and Mutiny: Asians Storm British Music (2003).
Ceasar McDowell is MIT Professor of the Practice of civic design and associate head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, as well as the associate director for civic design at MIT’s new Center for Constructive Communication. His current work focuses on the development of community knowledge systems and civic engagement. McDowell’s research and teaching interests include the use of mass media and technology in promoting democracy and community-building, the education of urban students, the development and use of empathy in community work, civil rights history, peacemaking, and conflict resolution.
In Azra Akšamija’s multi-disciplinary practice, she investigates the potency of art and architecture to facilitate the process of transformative mediation in cultural or political conflicts. In so doing, she provides a framework for researching, analyzing, and intervening in contested sociopolitical realities. Her recent work focuses on representation of Islamic identities in the West, spatial mediation of identity politics, and cultural pedagogy through art and architecture.