LOUD: In Conversation with Raven Davis
by Charlotte Henay
Raven Davis does the hard work of making futurity and community through their art. Their performance, installation and visual art acts as protest and reverence, asking what we have to honour and to offer, in an ethic of responsibility. They subvert the norm, refusing colonial society’s reverence and memorialization of war, genocide, Indigenous erasure and womxn as commodifiable and disposable. Raven speaks about making work from the now, from a place/space/time of humility – acknowledging our ancestors and our voices as echoes of theirs. We spoke about voice as being so much more than speech, if not sometimes its antithesis. Raven reflects, in their work and in this conversation, on silence as inherent in voice. What is not said speaks as loudly, if not louder than, what is spoken. We’re accountable for what we say, as well as for the repercussions of the silences in which we are complicit. Personal voice articulates an expression of self, and a rejection of homogenizing representations of Indigeneity. Raven’s work is multidisciplinary and multifaceted in its conception, presentation and scope. I read it as connected to relationships of imagining, where critiques of colonial oppressions and constructs give way to re-imagining ourselves and how we relate to each other, all beings and elements in the multiverse. This relational imaginary invites creative world-making in ways, forms and with means we may not yet remember. This is futurity.
Charlotte Henay: I read your work as connected to the relationships of imagining that undergird the politics of art, especially in a matrilineal legacy of survival and expression. What is most important for you in the work that you’re doing now, that you want to have come across?
Raven Davis: Silence requires courage and speaking requires humility. Especially with the complexities of our lives, when we may feel we’ve been both taught and betrayed by the same person or system. In My Mother Gave Me My IMFA – Indigenous Master’s of Fine Arts, I wrote about something I cherish. It was a story in honour of my mother, my first teacher. Our relationship has held so many beautiful and tragic events. As I age, I am learning, understanding and unpacking the fruits and gi s that I want to carry and those I want to let go of. Art can reconcile and heal without words. It’s transformative and humbling, and as a result, some of my work doesn’t leave my studio. I keep it close to me like a treasured childhood diary.