Biennale of Sydney

Elle Máijá Tailfeathers

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Bihttoš, 2014. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Campbelltown Arts Centre. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Canada Council for the Arts and the Consulate General of Canada in Sydney. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.

Elle Máijá Tailfeathers

Born 1985 in Cardston, Canada / Kainai First Nation / Niitsitapi / Blackfoot Confederacy
Lives and Works in New York City, United States; Vancouver, Canada / Kainai First Nation; and throughout Sápmi


Elle Máijá Tailfeathers' Bihttoš is an intimate telling of a love story, a family story, and the joy and pain carried between people, begins with the story of Tailfeathers’ Blackfoot mother and Sámi father. Two political activists, each struggling for the rights of their communities, meeting in Australia at a World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) in 1981 and going on to build a life together in Sápmi, and later the United States and Canada. Their story spans global Indigenous struggles, everyday family life, the collective weight carried through intergenerational trauma, and pathways of healing. Her father is a survivor of the Sámi Boarding School System in Norway, a story he is only able to tell later in life. Told through archival family photographs, re-enactments, mixed-media animation and narration, Bihttoš is a meditation on collective and personal memories – shared, lived and inherited.

Elle Máijá Tailfeathers is a writer, director, producer, and actor from the Kainai First Nation (Niitsitapi / Blackfoot Confederacy, Canada / United States) and Uŋárga, Sápmi (Norway). She works in both documentary and narrative fiction. Her work is often collaborative and community focused with the intention of reclaiming narrative and visual sovereignty through film. Her process also focuses on building capacity within the Indigenous film community through training and employment for Indigenous crew in all key departments.

Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with assistance from Canada Council for the Arts, Consulate General of Canada in Sydney and Office of Contemporary Art Norway. Courtesy the artist

Exhibited Artwork

Elle Máijá Tailfeathers, Bihttoš, 2014 (film still). Commissioned by the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright © Violator Films

Location: Campbelltown Arts Centre

Elle Máijá Tailfeathers, Bihttoš, 2014 (film still). Commissioned by the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. Courtesy of the artist. Copyright © Violator Films

Location: Campbelltown Arts Centre