Singing to Drums (written as a spoken word)

Artist: Peter Morin

Medium: Video

Artist Statement: EzekTah Didene k’eh Onye
(my name is EzekTah)
Edu Didene k’eh  hodese
(I don’t speak Tahltan well)
I made this work as a part of series of performance moments in 2013
we were at an artist residency at Thompson Rivers University organized by Ashok Mathur.
we were gathered together as artists and makers to think through the complicated reconciliation’s that were
happening in this place now known as Canada
these performance moments were about gathering energy, gathering knowledge, gathering spirit before the performance called Hair made in collaboration with Ayumi Goto
before Singing to Drums, I worked on this 7ft long drawing of Indigenous hair
before Singing to Drums, I made the new drums
before Hair, there was announcing our presence to the Ancestors of that territory, Drums remaking Foucault, Asking the Rocks for Help, Land Drumming, Singing to Drums (these were all of the performance moments that made energy for making the performance Hair)
I’ve been, and still am, practicing Drums Are Portals to the Ancestral Realms 
I knew that the performance called Hair was going to be difficult because what I wanted to do within that collaborative performance with Ayumi
These performance moments were needed to prepare all of the materials that were required for that performance
These materials were – 6 drums, drum guts, 28 rocks, and a drawing of Indigenous Hair
In the studio, for 28 days, I was making a drawing of human hair
This drawing was 7 ft long and was my representation of Indigenous Hair connected to the Indigenous children stolen away from their families and forced to attend the Indian Residential Schools in this place now known as Canada
It’s important to note that this drawing/representation/memory was a mnemonic for their hair before it was cut by scissors in those schools by those white hands
Previous to this residency I had a dream of drums made from different animal skins stitched together and then stretched around drum hoops
I called these drums the picking up the pieces drums because what do you do after surviving the Indian Residential School,
you pick up the pieces, sew them together, and start to make music again
These 6 drums were situated directly on the drawing of Indigenous hair
The guts of one drum was just off from the left edge of the drawing
5 drums were made of stitched pieces of animal skin
1 drum was made with a single piece of elk hide and was completed with a hand poke tattoo in honour of our Indigenous brothers and sisters who were criminalized by the court system
Singing to Drums comes before HAIR
I asked for help with this performance from the other artists who were in residence with me – Clement Yeh, Ayumi Goto, Adrian Stimpson, Mimi Gellman, Leah Decter
At the beginning of the performance moment, I shared about the two performances – singing to drums is the moment before our Indigenous relations hair got cut off in the Indigenous Residential School and Hair is the moment that their hair gets cut in the Indian Residential School
I explained to the folks that these drums are portals, and that these drums open up a space that will allow them (Clement, Ayumi, Adrian, Mimi, and me) to speak loving kindness into the long hair of our young Indigenous relations
I explained that when our moms, uncles, grandmothers, dads, aunties, grandfathers were brushing/braiding our long hair that they were also whispering love/kindness/teachings into the hair before braiding it
I explained that we, during this performance, were going to speak loving kindness into their hair
One last chance to surrounded these young beings with love
Don’t forget that drums as portals also means time travel
And don’t forget that drums as portals as performance art remakes our experience of the world
I never directed anyone with what they could share
And when it was time, we stepped to each drum
All of the sound happens at once
You can see from the performance documentation, when our respective offerings were done we stepped back
I got to admit something
I was scared to move closer into the portal
I was scared to make an offering whispered into the hair of our Indigenous Relations before their hair was cut away from their bodies by that harmful and violent system
Singing to Drum happened on the 50 year anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream speech
That morning, before the performance, I found a free publication acknowledging and honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s I have a Dream Speech
This speech continues to be an important part of my life
I would listen to that speech every year on August 28th
And sometimes I would listen to his speech again on April 4th
These words, this great man’s words, helped me, like they have helped so many of us, to feel safer 
These words helped us to believe there could be a future where we could all be safer
When I was thinking about what I could offer as loving kindness, to be whispered into the hair of our Indigenous relations, before their hair was cut away from their body, I knew that these words could keep them safer
I said – I want you to know little ones that we fight so hard for you 
I sang – Crossed Out Name by Ryan Adams – it’s his line, I feel like a page with a crossed out name
Sometimes we forget about these circles and cycles of trauma because trauma is so much work
I am also Intergenerational Indian Residential School Survivor and trauma also collapses time/lines/space
And I sang the Surrounded by Cedar song, composed by Chief William Wasden
Sabrina Williams and I asked him to compose a song for the Indigenous Children in Foster Care we were working with
We wanted a song for them to sing
So that they knew they belonged to something
And the singing was a way for them to articulate their own belonging
After the camera was turned off
I took my eagle fan and brushed Clement, Ayumi, Adrian, Mimi, Ashok, and me
And I brushed and closed the drum portals


Artist Biography: Peter Morin is a grandson of Tahltan Ancestor Artists. Morin’s artistic offerings can be organized around four themes: articulating Land/Knowing, articulating Indigenous Grief/Loss, articulating Community Knowing, and understanding the Creative Agency/Power of the Indigenous body. The work takes place in galleries, in community, in collaboration, and on the land. All of the work is informed by dreams, Ancestors, Family members, and performance art as a research methodology. Initially trained in lithography, Morin’s artistic practice moves from printmaking to poetry to button blanket making to installation drum making to bead work to performance art. Morin’s first performance ‘I grieve too much’ took place at the Museum of Anthropology in 2005. Peter is the son of Janelle Creyke (Crow Clan, Tahltan Nation) and Pierre Morin (Quebecois). Throughout his exhibition and making history, Morin has focused upon his matrilineal inheritances in homage to the matriarchal structuring of the Tahltan Nation, and prioritizes Cross-Ancestral collaborations.  Morin was longlisted for the Brink and Sobey Awards, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In 2016, Morin received the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Canadian Mid-Career Artist. Peter Morin currently holds a tenured appointment in the Faculty of Arts at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, and is the Graduate Program Director of the Interdisciplinary Master’s in Art, Media and Design program at OCADU. \n