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Hot Dang, Dayna!

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This evocative artist is breaking down every door and wall that she can, and boy are we glad.

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Meet Dayna Danger: A Queer, Metis/Saulteaux/Polish artist who was raised in Winnipeg, MB and now resides in Montreal. Utilizing photography, sculpture, and video, Danger 's practice questions the line between empowerment and objectification by claiming space with her human scale work. Co-opting the visual language of fashion and pornography, she repurposes and challenges perceptions of power, gender, performativity, representation, sexuality, and mixed identities.

Below is an interview with Dayna Danger and WIOT's Katie Webb:

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Katie: How do you define your relationship with your audience?

Dayna: When I think about my audience, the most ideal situation is the gallery, because that space in and of itself has history as an institution. My work is there to take up space, that’s why I print everything so big. I want to overwhelm people so that they can’t look away. There are a lot of cues from fashion photography and pornography to try to lure you in, and then you’re trapped there. Either you’re going to be into it or not; you have the decision to leave and to participate.

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K: What experience do you want your audience to walk away with?

D: One that leaves them inherently confused - I want them to question everything. I was raised Polish Roman Catholic by my dad and grew up with a certain worldview; I only feel that quite recently I’ve come into my own. There’s not just one track for everyone, you have to figure out your own thing. I feel like this generation and the ones coming up are going to be figuring that out, because the ideas that were sold to our parents haven’t been panning out for us so well. R-masks01_Kandace

K: In artistic expressions like drag, we see elements of magic and transformation. In your work, where does that come from and what is its purpose for you?

D: I’m trying to envision another life. My performance work is really rough. For example, the beaded masks that I made – I really love to imagine that they are part of ceremony, or that they exist for this sort of vigilante gang. These imaginings give us our power back; because so often Indigenous people are always spoken of in the past, when in truth we are very present.

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K: Most of us are only beginning to talk about Indigenous sexuality. How do you want to help shape its discourse?

D: It would be so nice if the conversation actually lay on Indigenous lips. There are so many expectations for how Indigenous people are supposed to be – we have the savagery image, that the men are stoic, or that the women are these very virile sexual beings to be conquered.

I have an Ojibwe friend out from Broken Head, and we’ve decided to start our own Indigenous-based pornography collective. We want to show sex in many different ways, and from an indigenous perspective, while also giving agency to the performers. It’s very much in its baby stage, but I think it’s important to give another perspective. Often in mainstream porn there’s a lot of fetishization and the perspective remains very cis, heteronormative, and white with augmented bodies. 

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K: In what ways does pornography affect your work and how does your work affect pornography?

D: I love porn. I think it’s great. I think it has the potential to be this really great tool of imagination, but it’s so often dominated by this one perspective. I want to be able to see stuff that I can actually enjoy; material that's ethically good. There’s so much stigma around our bodies and sex, but it’s such a natural thing. I think the only way to change it is to make new content, like the porn collective I'm beginning to develop.

Dayna Danger, rock on!


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