What does it mean to be The Problem?



“Indian headdresses” and blackface on display at the Alternator

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art stirs controversy with their upcoming exhibition, What does it mean to be The Problem, opening at 7pm on Friday January 8th, 2016.

Exhibition: What does it mean to be The Problem?
Opening Reception: Friday, January 8, 7pm
: Fern Helfand, Tannis Nielsen, and Samuel Roy-Bois
Exhibition dates: 8 January to 18 February, 2016

Copied from her family archive, Fern Helfand, professor of photography in FCCS,  presents a life-sized photograph of a group of children at a costume party taken in 1961. In the picture a young Caucasian boy’s cheeks are streaked with war paint as he proudly dons a feathered Indigenous war bonnet. The little girl’s face is colored black with chocolate Quik powder, and a black-skinned inflatable “Hug-a-Bug” doll dangles from her hand.

This image lies at the axis of the exhibition. Works by 2 other UBCO artists of mixed heritages Tannis Nielsen and Samuel Roy-Bois respond from their own perspectives.

Issues of cultural appropriation, stereotyping, racism and privilege aim to challenge the viewer and to prompt them to think about how they too might be implicated no matter how innocent their actions might be.

The Alternator will host an opening reception for What does it mean to be The Problem on January 8th at 7pm. The catered event is free and open to the public. In addition, there will be an AlterKnowlege public discussion forum on racism and privilege January 15th at 7pm.

The Okanagan arts community is also invited to creatively respond to the exhibition with their own artwork. An exhibition of these submissions will be mounted in the Alternator from February 5th to 20th. More information is available at www.bit.do/helfand.

The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is an artist-run centre located in Kelowna at the Rotary Centre for the Arts, 421 Cawston Avenue. The Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art is a registered non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the development of the creative community. Since 1989, the Alternator has shown the work of emerging Canadian artists, focused on innovative and non-traditional mediums engaged in social and cultural issues. alternatorcentre.com

Leave a Reply