At its core, Tlikalii is a mask project.  It is the intersection of our ancestors’ legacy of performance trickery and the latest technological advances available.  Haida ‘WaahlGahl – commonly “potlatches” – are central to Haida law and social organization and involve magic and pagentry to bring the supernatural into the stories of our ancestors.

Through all types of mechanisms and contraptions that they could invent, our ancestors sought to create tension, fear, joy and surprise in their longhouse performances. Transformation masks that were able to open up to reveal a face underneath, portals in a dance screen, took storytelling beyond the limits of our world, propelling the audience out of their role as mere witnesses. This is the challenge Jaalen and Gwaai Edenshaw have set themselves as artists.

Under a blanket of secrecy, Gwaai and Jaalen are producing a series of new, technologically enhanced masks, dance screens and other surprises to come.  Through an examination of ancestral works and stories, as well as tapping their own creative resources, they have built up a library of tricks and subterfuge that are contributing to their new works.  Concurrent with these pieces, they’re working to create a narrative for performance with choreography. Because of the mystery and surprise at the foundation of this project, our communications and visuals of the progress must be cryptic.  We hope the oblique hints and cryptic peeks at the works will entice and excite.

Tlikalii is also made possible with the support Canada Council for the Arts New Chapter Grant as well as the gifts of language and culture from our elders and ancestors that make this project possible.