she used to want to be a ballerina, 2019
Joi T. Arcand’s she used to want to be a ballerina continues her practice of transforming conversations around the revitalization of Indigenous languages. Inspired by the artist’s desire to be a classically trained ballerina and her brief connection to the tradition of Pow Wow dancing, the series reinterprets nostalgic symbols of the ballet profession by reclaiming the practice of dance. Arcand infuses a music box with Buffy Sainte Marie’s “She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina”. The artist’s neon sign becomes a message in Plains Cree (she used to want to be a fancy dancer), and her “tutu” flourishes as traditional Pow Wow regalia. Arcand’s challenging of the ways we privilege language and spaces is a point of resistance to narratives of assimilation.