Rolande Souliere
23/10/21 - 6/11/21

Exhibition Text

The chosen vernacular used in Slang, Drug talk and other related matters is derived from social engagement with various Indigenous communities, both rural and urban, in Canada and Australia, whilst working on my Collage of Indigenization (2013-2018) social art project. Through this lived experience, I learnt commonly used slang amongst the Indigenous communities I worked with.

Upon reflection, the argot, euphemisms, idioms, and acronyms can be seen as a social mechanism for establishing cultural empowerment rather than the customarily view of slang as taboo, lower class and uneducated, as defined by Linguistic Purism. This linguistic theory views slang as idiosyncratic and deviant vocabulary used by marginalized groups and relegates slang to the lower social classes. Whereas, Socio-historical-cognitive linguistic theory views slang in a positive light by not only empowering a given culture but also enriching language and enhancing linguistic knowledge.

The chosen words and phrases used in Slangsexdrugtalkandotherrelatedmatters emphasizes a vocabulary of sociability that people use casually with one another in everyday life that inherently addresses the socio-political, cultural, and historical issues embedded in slang.   As such, the artwork eradicates value judgements based on marginalized groups and provides cultural credibility by highlighting its salient characteristics.  For example, slang often reflects attitudes of an anti-society and stems from a somewhat disseminated rejection of philosophies, attitudes, logic, and assumptions of the Euro-western sensibility.  The chosen catchphrases or vernacular made into neon signs highlights unconventional English as a social mechanism employed by Indigenous people to manifest an alternative reality - that of an Indigenous society transnationally.  

The chosen slang incorporates group-identifying functions, ephemerality, and systematic relationships with other lexemes.   In this regard, new words and meanings are formed from old words that are flippant and ephemeral.  They create cultural creations such as “frybread girl”, “BINT”, “teepee creeper” and “gubbermen” that burst open the silence and bring new ways of seeing into existence.  These popular expressions from rural and urban lived experience tell us about the social-political and cultural fabric of a given society that portrays a treasure trove reminiscent of history.  

Artist Bio
Rolande Souliere’s transdisciplinary art practice explores the social, political, and cultural aspects of transnational Indigeneity in contemporary society: a way of understanding art that encourages the idea that art and its histories are interconnected beyond its point of origin. Her unique position of working on Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation (Sydney, Australia), traveling several times a year to Turtle Island (North America) for work and family, and collaborating with Indigenous communities nationally and internationally and/or participating in exhibitions situate her within an interconnectedness of art and Indigenous communities: This unique situation provides a long-term ongoing ideological engagement with Indigenous alliances on a transnational scale that feeds into her art practice.

Souliere has exhibited at numerous museums and institutions in Australia, Canada, Germany, United States and Austria.  She is a member of Michipicoten First Nation, born and raised in Toronto, Canada and is also an Australian citizen. She has a BVA (Honors), MVA and a PhD from Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney and is a painting lecturer at The National Art School.

Acknowledgements: thanks to Paolo Larossi, SignLite, National Art School and Canada Council for the Arts.


Frybread girl = a girl who is overweight as she eats too much frybread.  Frybread is like damper and is high in calories and thus is fattening.

BINT = acronym for Been in the Territory and refers to someone who thinks they know everything about First Nations culture as they have been to the Northern Territory.

49 = a festive event, such as a Pow Wow, where large groups of people come together to celebrate.  

Sorry Business = someone has passed, and the person is attending the funeral

Teepee creeper = someone who plays the field.

Gubbermen = government official approaching and refers to The Stolen Generation.

The Palace = jail

Cuntoff = two girls fighting

Gunning = staring a person down

Jarjums = littlies, children

Bii = bitch

Snag = to pick up someone

Ninpow = fuck you

Bannock bum = someone who has a flat bum, like bannock or damper

Stay red = stay true to your Indigenous worldviews

Treaty talk = white man lies, addresses the lengthy discussions and inaccurate outcomes of the treaties in Canada

Thundercunt = biggest cunt ever

FBI = full bloodied Indian and address historical blood quantum issues with Indigenous people.

Deadly = super cool, amazing