Field Station:
Duane
Linklater

Oct. 7 –
Dec. 10,
2017

Duane Linklater, ​Blueberries for 12 vessels​, 2012–ongoing. Courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries Gallery. Photo: Nanaimo Art Gallery

questions about blueberries, and how things are pluralized

The Omaskêko Cree word for berries is ​minisa​. This is the plural form of the word, so it is more than one. A very specific and interesting characteristic of the Cree language is how things are pluralized. It reveals each word’s animacy or inanimacy—a dubious and interesting categorization—and it reveals its relationship to the speaker of the word. M​inisa​ is considered a pluralized inanimate noun, but that does not necessarily mean that they (or it) are not alive.

In the specific case of blueberries, the word is ​shâpomina​, which is considered both an inanimate and an animate noun. In its animate, pluralized form, it would be ​shâpominak​ (like a person or a sock). It is an interesting ambiguity that this particular berry can be simultaneously animate and inanimate: ​shâpominak​ inhabits both categories uneasily. And in doing so, they reveal themselves as active agents of Omaskêko language and ideas, coming from the lands of Omaskêkowak people and Anishinâbêk peoples and the social system in which they are embedded.

Field Station: Duane Linklater​ is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Carla Acevedo-Yates. Support for this exhibition has been provided by the MSU Federal Credit Union; the Eli and Edythe Broad Endowed Exhibition Fund; and the MSU Broad’s general exhibition fund.