Biennale of Sydney

Adrian Stimson

Adrian Stimson, Buffalo Boy, 2004, 35mm black-and-white photograph. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Ian Grove

Adrian Stimson

Born 1964 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Lives and works in Alberta, Canada
Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation, located on Treaty 7 Territory in southern Alberta, Canada

Adrian Stimson is an interdisciplinary artist who survived the residential school system in Canada. He challenges the colonial project through painting, digital media, installations and performance. He uses the colonial archive, memory, Indigenous knowledge and humour in confronting genocide. His art speaks to resilience and resistance; ways to thrive in an often-hostile world.

Taken at the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA Buffalo Boy/Shaman Exterminator are early depictions of Buffalo Boy and the Shaman Exterminator, performance art personas that were developed during Stimson’s studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Buffalo Boy is a character parody of Buffalo Bill and his Wild West shows; he is an identity construction of the ‘Indian’, cowboy, shaman and Two Spirit being. The Shaman Exterminator is kind of like the Terminator, who tackles issues around new age spirituality, shamanism and pan-Indian identity. These personas have been a part of a number of performance and exhibitions across Canada, USA and Europe

Buffalo Boy Dreams in 4 Directions is a new video that explores Buffalo Boy’s Dream World. Buffalo Boy was ‘Put to Bed’ in the fall of 2018 and is now dreaming. The video is divided into 4 segments; North, Genesis, the beginnings of Buffalo Boy; East, I hear the train a comin…, speaks to the Colonial Project and how the railroad united Canada but destroyed Indigenous ways of being forever. Naked Napi makes a cameo in this video, Naked Napi is a newer persona who is based on the historical Blackfoot Trickster character Napi or Old Man. He is the Blackfoot creator and trickster character whose stories, often humorous, speak to Blackfoot ways of being. South, Buffalo Boy’s I love Australia, Australia loves me, speaks to Buffalo Boy’s love of Australia, parodying Joseph Beuys’ performance I Like America, America likes me, where he held up in a New York warehouse with a coyote for a number of days. Like Beuys, Buffalo Boy and the Shaman Exterminator frolic with dingoes in captivity and seek to free them. West, The Battle of Little Big Horny II is the second iteration of this video that explores the Wild West, the ongoing colonial battle, death and the resurrection of Buffalo Boy.

Buffalo Boy’s Dreamscape is a new sculptural, installation work that mirrors Buffalo Boy Dreams in 4 Directions. Surrounded by the railroad, Buffalo Boy, Shaman Exterminator, Naked Napi, dingoes and the bison create moments frozen in time. In these little vignettes, Buffalo Boy engages in acts of sleeping, crawling, standing and gun-slinging, while the Shaman Exterminator looks on and interacts with the dingoes. Naked Napi attacks and sprays the train with his big penis, hoping to slow down or stop the spread of colonialism. The bison surrounded by the railroad roam the enclosed space, weary of the colonial project, speaking to loss and resilience.