Marianne Nicolson

Nicolson is a member of the Dzawada’enuxw Tribe of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations who reside on the coastal mainland of British Columbia. She holds a BFA from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and a MFA in Visual Art from the University of Victoria. She has presented solo exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery (2008), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (2007), Artspeak (2006), Thunder Bay Art Gallery (2002), and the National Indian Art Centre (2001). She has also participated in group exhibitions at Equinox Gallery (2011), 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010), Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver (2010), the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Olympic Museum, Lausanne (2009), Museum of Arts & Design, New York (2005), and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (1999), among others. Her artworks are contemporary expressions of traditional Kwakwaka’wakw concepts. Due to an emerging belief that these concepts could be better understood through comprehension of the Kwak’wala language and a growing concern over the endangered status of this indigenous language, she engaged in linguistic and anthropological study at the University of Victoria where she completed an Interdisciplinary MA in 2005. In 2012, she completed her PhD research involving the conceptualization of space and time in Kwakwaka’wakw language and art and the importance of indigenous language to indigenous worldview.


  • DJ Booth / Listening Booth: two works

    February 18–March 25, 2006

    Opening: Friday, February 17 at 8pm with DJ Dana D

    Additional DJ event with Vinyl Ritchie: Saturday, March 11 from 3 to 5pm

    Engaging with the social effects of design and architecture, Ian Skedd’s practice centres around the interplay of interior and exterior space. In his investigations into psychological and conceptual relationships to space, Skedd considers architecture as transformative, translational and isolationist. His project for Artspeak, DJ Booth / Listening Booth: two works, defines a controlled system of inside and outside, activating an exploration of the social effects of spatialization where the boundaries between public and private, observer and observed are elided.

    DJ Booth / Listening Booth: two works is an architectural and sound installation that uses the form of two separate language translator or interpreter’s booths. The booths, with windows facing one another, will each be able to accommodate only a single individual. One booth will house DJ equipment, and a DJ will perform at intervals during the course of the exhibition. The other booth will house speakers in order to listen to the DJ. When the DJ is not in attendance, a recording of the DJ’s mixing will play in the listening booth. In isolating the DJ and listener, they become equal participants in the work (particularly when viewed by third parties outside the booths). The work approaches the DJ as a translator of cultural material, the listener as a receptor, and the outside viewer as a spectator who will be transformed into an active participant once s/he steps into the listening booth. As spaces of contemplation, Skedd’s work proposes parallels between the listening booth and the gallery as receptacles of culture and places where transformation and reconsideration are possible.

    Postscript 19: Rob Brownie and Annabel Vaughan on DJ Booth / Listening Booth: two works (PDF)

  • Bakwina`tsi: the Container for Souls

    January 7–February 11, 2006

    Marianne Nicolson works in a variety of media to express Kwakwaka’wakw concepts in both traditional manners (which remain within traditional contexts) and in contemporary manners (which are meant for exhibition under contemporary conditions). For her exhibition at Artspeak, she is taking the gallery’s context as a starting point to consider the objectification and commercialization of Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal objects and cultures. Her site-specific installation, Bakwina`tsi: the Container for Souls, utilizes Artspeak’s storefront Gastown location. Gastown is home to several leading commercial vendors of Pacific Northwest Coast Aboriginal Art, as well as vendors that are selling cultural kitsch. Together these businesses drive a significant percentage of traditional Northwest Coast art production.

    Nicolson’s Artspeak installation centres around an altered bentwood chest constructed from cedar and etched glass. While bentwood chests are traditionally meant to hold articles of value, Nicholson’s decorated chest will contain and spill light, so that shadows are cast onto the gallery walls. These projected shadows index the rich and ephemeral concepts from which this object is conceived. The viewer, upon entering the gallery, will physically interrupt the throw of light to add another layer of shadows. Referencing the traditional tale of how Raven stole the sun from a chief (who kept it in a box) to release it for the entire world’s benefit, Nicolson’s Bakwina`tsi: the Container for Souls proposes a distinction between the object and it’s contents. Nicolson’s chest is both a play on a consumable object and a receptacle and/or projector of cultural dialogue.

    Postscript 18: Daina Warren on Bakwina`tsi: the Container for Souls (PDF)

Talks & Events

  • Invisible Violence

    February 13, 2013

    Friday February 15, 2013, 7PM, World Art Centre, 2nd Floor, SFU Woodwards, 149 West Hastings Co-presented by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement

    Artspeak is pleased to launch Invisible Violence, a publication and discursive project guest-curated by Liz Park. In conjunction with the launch will be a talk by Victoria-based artist Marianne Nicolson.

    Designed to incite thoughtful conversations about the representation of violence and its politicization today, this multi-part project consists of: publication of the artists’ work as a sequence of 5”x7” cards; a series of discursive events conceived as points of distribution for the publication; and a web hub that archives reflections on the discussions that take place at each event. As a set of provocations, the parts collectively evaluate the political conditions of the production, circulation and consumption of violent images.

    Invisible Violence, brings together the work of four artists—Rebecca BelmoreKen Gonzales-Day,Francisco-Fernando Granados, and Louise Noguchi—who use photography as a point of reference for histories of violence that inform a contemporary politics of representation. Their work intentionally covers, erases, withdraws or cuts apart the main subject of the photographs, delaying the recognition of the structural and systemic violence underlying each image. Taking this interruption as its starting point, the project asks that “we”—the audience who are informed by contemporary mediascape riddled with images of violence—problematize the first person pronoun. As Susan Sontag writes, “No ‘we’ should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people’s pain.”

    All events are free and open to the public. Publication distributed free at the events. A series of commissioned texts in the form of blog posts will summarize and respond to each of the events below:

    February 15: Artspeak in partnership with Simon Fraser University Community Engagement, Vancouver, BC, CA

    February 20: Gallery TPW, Toronto, ON, CA

    February 27: CEREVCentre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence at Concordia University, Montreal, QC, CA

    March 2: Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY

    For more information about launch dates and events, please visit: This project was produced by Artspeak, with web component by Gallery TPW, and curatorial research support from Center for Photography at Woodstock.

    If you would like to obtain a copy of the publication, but are unable to attend the events, please inquire about the availability of a copy by email:

    Artspeak gratefully acknowledges project support from the Audain Foundation.


  • Scene of Translations

    Translations front
    Translations spine
    Translations back

    Title: Scene of Translations
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Ian Skedd, Marianne Nicolson
    Writers: Lindsay Brown, Wayde Compton
    Design: Julian Gosper
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Year published: 2006
    Pages: 32pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 10 b&w images
    Dimensions: 25 x 17 x 0.5 cm
    Weight: 164 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-54-3
    Price: $5 CDN

    In Scene of Translations, Lindsay Brown, Wayde Compton, Marianne Nicolson, and Ian Skedd interpret visual, textual, aural, and cultural languages to provide a platform on which multiple translations can occur. The texts by Brown and Compton bring together disparate threads of the problems and potentialities of hybridity and translation. Through etymological investigation, transferals of history, and the metaphors of commuter crows and passenger pigeons, Scene of Translations offers an entry point into translatory perambulations. Nicolson and Skedd present architecture and sculpture as translational, resituating the audience not only within the gallery, but in relationship to other viewers. Both artists present new pathways in their consideration of form’s social aspects, indicating that the gallery, like the publication, is a space where transformation and reconsideration are possible.

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