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4-channel video installation, 37 min. English.

NDN Survival Trilogy brings together three of Thirza Cuthand’s recent short films that tackle the issue of extractive capitalism and its effects on the Indigenous population of Canada. Cuthand trains an idiosyncratic, queer lens on a wide range of interconnected topics:
Extractions parallels resource extraction with the booming child apprehension industry. As the filmmaker reviews how these industries have affected her, she reflects on having her own eggs retrieved and frozen to make an Indigenous baby. Grappling with a latent gas mask fetish, in Less Lethal Fetishes Cuthand muses on art world political controversies, toxic emissions from the petrochemical industry, and complicity in repression and pollution as an artist enmeshed in an art and film industry propped up by dirty funders. Reclamation is a documentary futurism short about three Indigenous survivors left behind on Earth after white people leave a destroyed planet behind for Mars. While seemingly dystopic, this film is filled with hope and humor and looks at potential solutions for current crises.

In collaboration with the Embassy of Canada.

Thirza Cuthand was born in 1978 in Regina, Canada. Since 1995 she has been making short experimental narrative videos and films about sexuality, madness, queer identity and love, and Indigeneity, which have screened in festivals and galleries internationally. She completed her BFA majoring in Film and Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2005, and her MA in Media Production at Ryerson University in 2015. She has also written three feature screenplays and has performed. She is of Plains Cree and Scots descent, a member of Little Pine First Nation, and currently resides in Toronto.


I got into the Whitney Biennial in 2019. I’m also making this video in 2019. Anyway, in 2018 just after I found out I was in the Biennial, the news came out that Warren B. Kanders, who was a vice chair on the board of the Whitney Museum of American Art, was a war profiteer whose company Safariland made teargas that was used in Ferguson, Palestine, Standing Rock, and on the USA/Mexico border against refugee families including children. And activists were asking the artists in the biennial to withdraw our work until Kanders was booted off the board. And no one knew who the artists were at that point, I didn’t know who the other artists were, I just knew that there was this big issue going on that I needed to figure out how to respond to. So even though I already had two gas masks, I bought another gas mask, because I thought I could make a video about it.
In my video I was going to have people from these different communities say something meaningful and profound while wearing this newer gas mask. It was going to be a smart incisive piece that I would just slip into the biennial with my other two videos that were screening. So that was the plan, but it never happened. I didn’t know what I wanted these people to say. I felt weird about asking random friends to be in my video just because they fit certain demographics.

But I kept the gas mask.

Production Thirza Cuthand. Production company Fit of Pique Productions (Toronto, Canada). Written and directed by Thirza Cuthand. Cinematography Thirza Cuthand. Montage Thirza Cuthand. Sound design Thirza Cuthand. Sound Thirza Cuthand. Costumes Thirza Cuthand. Casting Thirza Cuthand. Executive producers Thirza Cuthand, Svetla Turnin. With Thirza Cuthand (Narrator), Lacey Hill, Cherish Violet Blood, Elwood Jimmy, Thirza Cuthand.


1995: Lessons in Baby Dyke Theory (3 min.). 1996: My Sister (with Danielle Ratzlaff, 5 min.), Colonization: The Second Coming (3 min.). 1997: Working Baby Dyke Theory (5 min.), Bisexual Wannabe (3 min.), Earth Flesh (1 min.). 1998: Untouchable (4 min.). 1999: Manipulation/Dictation (4 min.), Thirza Cuthand’s Through the Looking Glass (14 min.), Helpless Maiden Makes an “I” Statement (6 min.). 2001: Anhedonia (9 min.). 2004: Love & Numbers (8 min.). 2008: Madness in Four Actions (9 min.), You Are A Lesbian Vampire (3 min.). 2010: Homelands (53 min.). 2012: Sight (3 min.), Boi Oh Boi (9 min.). 2013: Just Dandy (7 min.). 2015: 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 (4 min.). 2017: The Longform Lesbian Census (with Riki Yandt, 4 min.), 2 Spirit Dreamcatcher Dot Com  (4 min.), Thirza Cuthand Is an Indian Within the Meaning of the Indian Act (8 min.). 2018: Reclamation (13 min.). 2019: Devout and Out: Susan (20 min.), Extractions (15 min.), WomanDress (5 min.), Less Lethal Fetishes (9 min.). 2020: NDN Survival Trilogy.

Photo: © Thirza Cuthand

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur