Open Secret:
Screenings, Conversations + Workshops with Jennifer Smith and Jennifer Dysart

29 February + 1, 2 March 2024

Free and open to all.

A Conversation with Jennifer Smith and Jennifer Dysart
29 February, 2:30 pm
Part of the People’s Symposium
Marine Museum of the Great Lakes

Learn more about the People’s Symposium and RSVP

A Retrospective of Films by Jennifer Dysart
1 March, 11:30 am
Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, RM 222

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The Workshop
2 March, 2:30–4:30 pm
Agnes Etherington Art Centre

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All events are free and open to all. Register as space is limited.

Open Secret: The Second Edition continues as a series composed of screenings, conversations, and workshops with guest curator, Jennifer Smith, and filmmaker, Jennifer Dysart.

Open Secret takes its departure from Fred Moten’s words that “poetry investigates new ways for people to get together and do stuff in the open, in secret.” Similarly, cinema’s capacity to condition spaces for gathering, and the double maneuver of opacity and transparency inherent in its making sets the precedent for this sort of investigation embedded in collaboration.

Memory Keeper
, the title of this iteration curated by Smith, is a look back at the work of Dysart who uses archives as a source material and pieces together stories of Indigenous life using archival material. The materials used were most often documentation taken by settlers of Indigenous communities. Jennifer’s films tell a story that was not intended when the original footage was taken, but that tells a narrative through an Indigenous lens.

Curated by Nasrin Himada

Memory Keeper is a partnership between Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC)
Supported by the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund, Queen’s University.

Memory Keeper: A Conversation with Jennifer Smith and Jennifer Dysart

29 February, 10 am, Marine Museum of the Great Lakes

Join us at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes for a conversation with Jennifer Dysart and Jennifer Smith, moderated by Nasrin Himada, Associate Curator, Academic Outreach and Community Engagement, as part of the inaugural People’s Symposium. This discussion is a lead up into the screening of a retrospective of Dysart’s films curated by Smith and taking place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

The People’s Symposium is a platform for the dissemination of local and regional histories centering Indigenous, Black, People of Colour, queer, and trans stories in Kingston, Wolfe Island, and surrounding areas. This annual symposium is intended to bring community together inviting Indigenous knowledge keepers, local historians, independent researchers, academics, and artists together in a public forum to non-hierarchically share and elevate knowledges typically erased from mainstream representations which tend to emphasize Eurocentric colonial histories of English and French settlement.

Memory Keeper: A Retrospective of Films by Jennifer Dysart

1 March, 11:30 am, Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, RM 222

Brimming | 2023 | 4:00

A fire burns. Water flushes out a chemical leak. Will this historical moment rise to the surface?

Caribou in the Archive | 2019 | 8:04

Rustic VHS home video of a woman hunting caribou in the 1990s is combined with NFB archival film footage of northern Manitoba from the 1940s. In this experimental documentary, the difference between homemade video and official historical record is considered. Northern Indigenous women hunting is at the heart of this personal found footage film in which the filmmaker describes the enigmatic events that led to saving an important piece of family history from being lost forever.

Kewekaoawetan: Return After the Flood | 2014 | 29:00

A Film About the Annual Gathering at South Indian Lake, Manitoba. Winner of the York University Thesis Award 2014.

Revisiting Keewatin | 2022 | 15:36

Films from the colonial era often end up in archives without information about Indigenous people and communities shown. Dysart’s goal is to identify the families shown in the Keewatin Missions film, housed at Library and Archives Canada that shows the Catholic archdiocese covering much of central and northern Canada in the 1950s.

This screening is in partnership with Film and Media Department, Queen’s University.

Memory Keeper: The Workshop

2 March, 2:30–4:30 pm, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

Join Jennifer Dysart and Jennifer Smith for a hands-on, creative experimentation on archives. Have you ever considered that an archive could be in the bush, or your closet, your garden? These are some of the questions we ask during a participatory workshop on our own personal archives.

Participants are asked to bring an object that is special to them. We use instax cameras to document this object and then create a work of art with the image. As we move through the process of making, we explore the ideas of where archives exist; how documenting and creating reference material for objects is a form of archiving; and how stories of archive materials can shift over time depending on how the materials are presented and used.

We end this workshop by documenting everything that was created, which will then be turned into a video, creating our own archival material of this workshop.

An array of supplies to create an artwork with your image are provided.

This workshop is in partnership with Vulnerable Media Lab.

Jennifer Dysart is an archive enthusiast with a deep love of found footage and experimental filmmaking. She was born in Alberta, raised in BC, currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario and has Cree roots on her Dad’s side of the family from South Indian Lake in northern Manitoba, Canada. She was an Artist-In-Residence for Archive/Counter-Archive at Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, 2019) and presented Revisiting Keewatin at Nuit Blanche (Toronto, 2022) and at NYU’s Orphans Film Symposium at Concordia University (Montreal, 2022). In 2014, Jennifer won the MFA thesis prize at York for her graduate work with Kewekapawetan: Return After the Flood, which relies heavily on recovered archival film about large-scale hydro developments that have irreparably affected the north. Her film Kewekapawetan: Return After the Flood (2014) screened recently at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a series called Let the Record Show: Archived Cinema (New York, 2023) and at the IAMHIST Conference (Montreal, 2023). Caribou in the Archive (2019) considers the value of decaying forms of home media and the absence of Indigenous women in colonial archives. Caribou in the Archive continues to screen around the world, most recently at the Winnipeg Film Group’s shorts program for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Winnipeg, 2023). Her film projects represent a growing body of work that interrupts the power of colonial archives.


Portrait of Jennifer Dysart. Courtesy of the artist.

Portrait of Jennifer Dysart. Courtesy of the artist.

Jennifer Smith is a Red River Métis independent curator, writer, and arts administrator from Treaty 1 Territory/Winnipeg. Jennifer has curated exhibitions for Gallery 1C03, AKA artist-run, the Manitoba Craft Council, and was the Indigenous Curator in residence at aceartinc. in 2018 and works with the window winnipeg collective. Her writing has been published through galleries and art publications, as well as she was part of the 2022 Momus Emerging Critics Residency: Writing Relations, Making Futurities: Global Indigenous Art Criticism. Through her work as an arts administrator Jennifer works as the Executive Director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC). Jennifer worked for twelve years in Media Art Distribution Centres, where she worked with and managed the archives associated with two distribution collections. Through this work she developed a great love for A/V preservation and understanding access to historical film and video collections.

Portrait of Jennifer Smith. Courtesy of the artist.

Portrait of Jennifer Smith. Courtesy of the artist.

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