Accepted paper:

Haida goes pop! Transpacific graphics and indigenous narratives


Nicola Levell (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the political and pedagogic agency of Haida-manga--a transpacific artform originated by the Haida artist and activist, Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. Fusing traditional Haida aesthetics with Japanese-inspired manga, Haida-manga is a dynamic graphic idiom that circulates local indigenous epistemologies and parables to a global public.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the work of Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (MNY), an artist, political activist and satirist, who self-identifies as the 'Haida-manga guy'. An artist of native Northwest Coast and European settler ancestry, MNY has developed Haida-manga, a distinctive and dynamic artform that draws on his intangible cultural heritage to engage with contemporary issues of indigenous rights, environmental exploitation and ecological devastation. Through transculturating Haida formlines and oral histories, with manga, the Japanese genre of graphic illustration, Haida-manga operates as a hybrid idiom or creative creole that invigorates Haida art, extending it beyond the neo-traditional media and forms, like figurative sculptures and masks that dominate the local field of production. An indigenized form of pop art, Haida-manga explodes the traditional canon of indigenous Northwest Coast art and its technologies of reproduction, which enables Haida epistemologies, oral histories and cautionary tales to circulate within and beyond indigenous, local and generational spheres of exchange. Looking at the expansion of Haida art through manga, this paper examines how indigenous aesthetics and ways of knowing are being mobilized as a form of eco-global, native and intercultural activism. It critically charts the development of Haida-manga as a politicized graphic art form that was initially embraced by manga aficionados in Asia and elsewhere, before modulating into multimedia artworks. No longer restricted to the medium of paper, Haida-manga as a critical art practice is now circulating in multimedia productions, from painted canvases, through short animations to recycled automobile parts, which are found in diverse spaces, from private collections, through virtual domains to public museums.

panel P02
World art and critical pedagogy