Jeneen Frei Njootli
Like many museums around the world, Remai Modern has closed as part of a broad response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our program has been suspended, artists remain at the forefront of our thoughts. The museum has reached out to artists involved in our programming to gather their perspectives on the experience of these unprecedented times.
Jeneen Frei Njootli
Thursday, April 30, 2020 3:15 PM
1. Where are you? What can you tell us about your current living situation, or the conditions in your neighbourhood/city?
I am in unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories. In east van with cherry blossoms and slow rolling police. 660 feet from my door is a Columbus statue. Here and there, I hear people saying terra incognita, but this isn’t unknown territory for many who are living through the opioid crisis, have lived through the AIDS crisis, have survived genocide and are battling ongoing colonial violence. In my apartment, I am surrounded by new modes of care, green shoots pressing up, searching, finding. In a place of mending and longing and learning and worry and hope and gratitude.
2. How are you continuing your practice during this time?
Practice continues every day, even if that means being a bedslug for several days in a row. Ebb n flow is a leaky faucet that never really turns off. Binge watch reality tv, sew masks. Spend 5 hours in zoom meetings, compose songs. Spend time in the garden, draw hummingbirds until their shape is memory and no images are needed. Sew beads onto ricrac in a slight gradient that is imperceptible. Soft launch RUTMEAT, to make new sounds with, a messy boundary from the rest. Work the new fancy professor work w two calendars, new privilege and imposter syndrome.
3. What things or ideas are you finding comfort in right now?
Finding comfort in tiktok, wild game, ice cream, plants, all things lavender, sewing, rearranging all my furniture each week, love letters to friends and music. Haha the comforts, gratefully, are plenty. Earl Ray’s Love So Tenderly, Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld’s album The Sun Roars Into View and Anachnid’s Dreamweaver album are some luffs rn. eeee feeling so drawn to Hito Steyerl’s thinking and work. Wondering about relationships to margins and pixels and breaking screens and colonial power. Please, everyone, go read Layli Long Soldier.
4. What artworks, music, books, or films have been in your mind during this time?
A few weeks ago, I kept wondering what Eve Tuck would write, down the line reflecting back at this moment and respect her work in creating theories of change. What theories of change can guide us to a place where capitalism loosens its grasp or… dies (Glen Courthard). Karyn Recollette, picturing your words coming together at this time. What poetry will come out of this moment?
Ooo I just got my LAND BACK patches from Whess Harman in the mail along with some unreal Ribbon pants from Disa Tootoosis Designs. It’s been amazing to see the Indigenous artists creating COVID facemask contemporary regalia.
5. What are you letting go of? What are you holding on to?
Had to let go of the idea of springing out down river back home. Of seeing and connecting in ways that feel more familiar and being in my homelands. Tryna use this time to let go of some resentments cuz they aren’t serving anyone! I’m holding on to my sewing machine, my bae and my Sobriety! Been over 6 months sober and loving it.
6. What are you looking forward to?
All the babies coming into this world!! Hope and strength of present n future generations!
Had some Caribou leg skins in my freezer and it’s time to tan them! Also looking forward to my veggies… this baby’s first garden! Looking forward to the sun setting on this empire (Marianne Nicholson reference) and finishing my N. K. Jemisin book!
Jeneen Frei Njootli is an artist and professor who is ndn and queer. They are living and working as an uninvited guest on unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories. In 2019, Remai Modern presented Frei Njootli’s performance and installation, from strength to this question, through the RBC Emerging Artist Series. Preview their latest sound project, RUTMEAT, on soundcloud or follow along on Instagram.