Skip to Main Content

Skawennati by Paxton Phillips from KOR Photo Studio, 2021

Skawennati

Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk), born Canada, date unknown

In work that has been presented internationally, Skawennati (she/her/hers) addresses history, the future, and change from her perspective as an urban Kanien’kehá:ka woman and as a cyberpunk avatar. She also co-directs Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace, a research-creation network founded in 2005 and based at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.

More of Skawennati's work can be found at her website: skawennati.com.

When I started back in the day, the internet was going to be this amazing information highway that was going to level the playing field and make everybody's lives better. But what it's turned out to be is a place where it's very difficult to find the truth where our privacy is threatened, and where our interaction with it becomes commodified.

Skawennati

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati. Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati. Photo: Jeff Mace for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati. Photo: Brenda Bieger for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.  

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati. Photo: Brenda Bieger for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.  

Members’ and Neighbors’ Celebration for Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022), October 16, 2021. Art © Skawennati. Photo: Jeff Mace for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati (left), Rian Hammond (right). Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

Installation view of Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (Albright-Knox Northland, October 16, 2021–January 16, 2022). Art © Skawennati (left), Saya Woolfalk (right). Photo: Tina Rivers Ryan for Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. 

She Falls for Ages, 2017

Digital video (color, sound) displayed on monitor
Running time: 21 minutes, 2 seconds, looped
Courtesy of the artist

“In She Falls for Ages, I didn’t recreate something that already happened; I got to make a world that I wanted to live in. So I have a pink sky, because pink is my favorite color. And the people have different color faces that are random and not related to the color of their parents, because I really wanted to see what a post-race society could look like.”
—Skawennati

At the beginning of She Falls for Ages, we meet a young mother and her twin children with magical powers who live in a futuristic world. The narrative that unfolds is a retelling of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) creation story as a short science fiction movie, in which Sky Woman is imagined as an astronaut who falls through space.

Skawennati (she/her/hers) made this machinima (machine + cinema) by recording the avatars and environments she created in the virtual world Second Life. One of the first net artists, she founded CyberPowWow and co-founded Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC), both online platforms that center Indigenous artists and cultures. For Skawennati, digital technologies are important because they allow Indigenous people to document their experiences, share their stories, and build their communities. In She Falls for Ages, the possibilities of digital moviemaking and the tropes of science fiction allow us to imagine a world in which, for example, the technologies of Indigenous people are valued, as promoted by Indigenous Futurism.

  • Cover of transcript for She Falls for Ages

    She Falls for Ages Transcript

    A transcript of Skawennati's She Falls for Ages (2017), featured in Difference Machines.

    View Here (PDF)
    Learn More

She Falls for Ages, 2017

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace

Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace is an Aboriginally determined research-creation network whose goal is to ensure Indigenous presence in the web pages, online environments, video games, and virtual worlds that comprise cyberspace.

Explore the site here.

Skawennati’s narrative personalizes past events, while also offering a vision of the future where the hopes of the past are realized.

Rea McNamara, "Skawennati Makes Space for Indigenous Representation and Sovereignty in the Virtual World of Second Life"

Skawennati Makes Space for Indigenous Representation and Sovereignty in the Virtual World of Second Life

Rea McNamara

AbTeC Island is a destination in the online world of Second Life that makes an Indigenous future accessible now...

Read McNamara's full essay here.

Explore Other Difference Machines Artists

Back to Top