Lara Kramer’s work Phantom, stills & vibrations, first presented in 2018 at Artspace artist run centre, creates an intimacy with her bloodland in the north (Lac Seul, ON) and confronts the brutal and complex relationships between Indigenous peoples and Settler society. For this performance and sound installation, Kramer draws the spectator into an immersive experience of the former Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, where three generations of her family attended. Produced in collaboration with Stefan Petersen, Phantom stills & vibrations explores the residual effects of the Residential school system and the continuing trauma that permeates the landscape.
Lara Kramer’s work is intimately linked to memory, examining issues of social, political, cultural importance for Canada and First Nations Peoples. Her ground-breaking work Native Girl Syndrome (NGS) grapples with experiences of Indian Residential Schools which are prominent in her family’s history. In addition to NGS, she has created several feature length performance pieces (e.g. This time will be different, Windigo, Tame, Of Good and Moral Character, Fragments) to critical acclaim that explore family and personal, complex, multilayered experiences, including from Indian Residential Schools and street life. These experiences speak to assimilation, cultural disorientation, confinement, survival, and human connection. Her works have been presented throughout Canada, Australia, Greenland, and New Zealand, gaining her recognition as an important Indigenous voice in Canada. She has been artist-in-residence across Canada and was also faculty of the Indigenous Dance Residency at The Banff Centre. She has been featured more than once in The Dance Current, Canada’s national dance magazine. In 2019, the Canada Arts Council awarded Ms. Kramer the Jacqueline Lemieux Award for outstanding contributions in dance.
Lara is a regular featured artist in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, having presented Native Girl Syndrome and Tame to full houses and resoundingly warm and enthusiastic reception. As Ashley Fellow 2018, Trent students and community, Indigenous and non-Indigenous were drawn to Lara for her warm personality and the meaningful connections she made with each person she met. More than this, she explored the relationship between environment, experiences, and embodiment to create greater awareness and potential for expanded understanding of oneself, the social and political. She led two Discovery of state of body movement workshops which facilitated greater awareness of the body in space, including sensorial awareness (especially aural) that opened onto new and multiple vistas of self-understanding of past, present, and future. There was great interest among students and community artists for her proposed workshops to explore the relationship between memory, body, and agency, to process their own individual and social experiences, as well as to inspire growth and creativity. “It is refreshing to experience such community involvement and feel the care given to an out-of-town artist,” said Ms. Kramer about her experience at Trent. “I hope to leave behind a greater awareness of the systemic issues and lateral violence that First Nations communities are forced to deal with every day.” Working with Nadine Changfoot (curator and producer of the Ashley Fellow artist residency) on access to the performance installation, Kramer stated: “I’m thankful that I was a part of Bodies In Translation and had the opportunity to think differently about how work is accessed, delivered and shared.”