These photographs have been taken on the ancestral, unceded and occupied territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, here we witness depictions of the colonial violence that has occurred and continues to occur towards these lands and it’s peoples daily, against a backdrop of urban decay. The painful exploitation of the land in these territories transpires through the fabrication of urban sprawl, of literal structures being built from resources extracted from other lands.
The violent colonial systems that violate and assault the land perpetuate a similar violence upon the queer body, these crimes committed against our bodies are felt predominantly and disproportionately by BIPOC. The systems – and the people benefitting and upholding them – fetishize our bodies, other our bodies, deny our bodies access, violate our bodies, regulate our bodies and demonize our bodies. Our Bodies is a celebration of contemporary queer bodies. Our nudity is a reclamation of our representation in the face of adversity, in the face of systems created to smother our bodies as they have smothered the land. Our Bodies is the land as represented by queer bodies, queer bodies as a reflection of the land.
Kali Spitzer is a photographer living on the traditional unceded lands of the Tsleil-Waututh, Skxwú7mesh and Musqueam peoples. The work of Kali embraces the stories of contemporary queer and trans bodies and BIPOC, creating representation that is self determined. Kali’s collaborative process is informed by the desire to rewrite the visual histories of indigenous bodies beyond a colonial lens. Kali is Kaska Dena from Daylu (Lower Post, British Columbia) on her father’s side and Jewish from Transylvania, Romania on her mother’s side. Kali’s heritage deeply influences her work as she focuses on cultural revitalization through her art, whether in the medium of photography, ceramics, tanning hides or hunting.
Kali studied photography at the Santa Fe Community College and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Under the mentorship of Will Wilson, Kali explored alternative practices to photography. She has worked with film in 35 mm, 120 and large format, as well as wet plate collodion process using an 8-by-10 camera. Her work includes portraits, figure studies and photographs of her people, ceremonies, and culture. At the age of 20, Kali moved back north to spend time with her Elders, and to learn how to hunt, fish, trap, tan moose and caribou hides, and bead. Throughout Kali’s career she has documented traditional practices with a sense of urgency, highlighting their vital cultural significance.
Kali’s work has been featured in several exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally including, the National Geographic’s Women: a Century of Change at the National Geographic Museum (2020), and Larger than Memory: Contemporary Art From Indigenous North America at the Heard Museum (2020). In 2017 Kali received a Reveal Indigenous Art Award from Hnatyshyn Foundation.
Kali would like to extend her gratitude to all who have collaborated with her, she recognizes the trust and vulnerability required to be photographed in such intimate ways.
— Mussi Cho
“Indigenous Femme Queer Photographer Kali Spitzer ignites the spirit of our current unbound human experience with all the complex histories we exist in, passed down through the trauma inflicted/received by our ancestors. Kali’s photographs are intimate and unapologetic and make room for growth and forgiveness while creating a space where we may share the vulnerable and broken parts of our stories which are often overlooked, or not easy to digest for ourselves or society.”
— Ginger Dunnill, Creator and Producer of Broken Boxes Podcast (which features interviews with indigenous and other engaged artists).