Considerations

Krista Belle Stewart’s “Seraphine, Seraphine”

I’ve had the luck of seeing Krista Belle Stewart’s video installation Seraphine, Seraphine twice: first at the Esker Foundation in 2013 as part of the Fiction/Non-Fiction exhibition, and then again in 2015 at Mercer Union in a solo presentation of the piece. In the five years since I first experienced Stewart’s work, which is kind of biography of her mother, I have continually come back to it as a profound articulation of strength and resistance, and as an example of what effects art might produce through encounter.

This week, ArtsEverywhere has published “From Where do You Speak?: Locating the Possibility of Decolonization in Krista Belle Stewart’s Seraphine, Seraphine,” an essay I have spent many years writing that attempts a deep reading of the video work, both on its own terms and through the world we live in today, which is a post-TRC, post-Canada 150 country in the midst of a widespread social and political paradigm shift away from settler colonial plunder, or so I hope. As provoked by Stewart’s work, I wonder:

What if a decolonial, Indigenized Canada is made from the twinned imperatives of decolonization on the behalf of settlers and self-determination on behalf of Aboriginal peoples? While these processes are inextricably bound yet distinct from each other, their conjunction recognizes the fact that a decolonized future must start with the self-determination of Indigenous people: despite the fact that decolonization is the task of the colonizing settler, it is not settler-articulated. Decolonization demands a robust relationality between settler and Indigenous populations, and most important for the task at hand is the capacity of settlers to listen, to receive, to be deeply uncomfortable, to recognize themselves as estranged from the skewed history presented in textbooks, to feel alienated from a sense of righteous belonging and to cede powers and privileges that have been ill-gotten.

There is so much profound work to be done in regards to making some sort of decolonial future possible—cross-culturally, legally, spatially, aesthetically, and in regards to repatriating land and resources to Indigenous communities—and it is my sincere belief that cultural forms, such as this work by Stewart, are part of what will make these endeavours legible to the many people that now call this place home, settler and Indigenous alike.

Advertisements
Standard
Happenings, SBC

Curatorial Residency at SBC Gallery

For you brilliant curator folks who have ever dreamed of living in Montréal/Tiohtià:ke and dreamed of working with a nimble institution to make paradigm-shifting projects happen, let me direct your attention to this: SBC galerie d’art contemporain’s call for Curator(s)-in-Residence.

We encourage submissions from practitioners who demonstrate a sustained commitment to the advancement of social justice in their work. We encourage programming that holds anti-colonial practices, collective practices and pedagogical practices as fields of action; that centres methodologies of shared accountability and care; and that actively resists inherited colonial legacies, systemic racism and gender discrimination. Reflections on institutional responsibility and accountability are encouraged.

My relationship with this institution has transformed me, and I am thrilled to be part of the jury for this residency. Perhaps this place and this opportunity could transform you too…

Standard
Considerations, Happenings

“Picking Up a Long Line” in Afterall Journal

So long ago now, I remember picking up a copy of Afterall—a journal that showcases in-depth considerations of the work of contemporary artists, as well as essays on art history and critical theory—from the University of British Columbia bookstore. I picked it up because I was someone who loved language and wanted to know more about art, and this was the one art mag that featured more words than pictures. I still have that copy kicking around, so many years later, so many different homes and different cities later.

And just this month I received the latest copy of Afterall in the post, which features an essay I have written about the practice of Rebecca Belmore. In the nerdiest way, that young women of before is thrilled today to see my writing in those pages. It has been a total honour to engage with Afterall’s editors, and the invitation to consider Belmore’s practice could not have come at a better time. The essay, entitled “Picking Up a Long Line,” charts the ways that Belmore’s practice has provided an anchor for feeling my way through all the awful shit that #MeToo and Times’ Up and Not Surprised have brought to the surface, socially and intimately. Not that any of this is new, but that it has been hard to find my way sometimes. As I say in the essay:

Belmore reminds us of our complicity in the unfolding of stories like this: what duty do we have to bear our suffering on each other’s bodies? How to carry the burden that trauma produces? These questions resonate with stark clarity today. What to do with the public accounting of how power and violence are wielded to demean others? What to do when the naming begins, both the naming of perpetrators of these violences and the naming of those whose lives have been altered by them?

In Belmore’s practice, I am reminded that this kind of social grappling and reconfiguration has been going on for a long long time, and that although the correlation isn’t perfect, that something like Not Surprised needs the long history of Belmore’s practice to be possible at all. Like so much else in life, it is the labour of BIPOC women that lead the way in making an otherwise possible. That young women of before, and this woman I am now, cannot be more thankful that there are such fierce precedents for how to be in relation to what can no longer stand to be.

Standard
Happenings, SBC

Ashon Crawley’s “The Lonely Letters”

Ashon Crawley, Otherwise Possibility, Nancy Ambrose's Imagination number 2 (2017).

Ashon Crawley, “Otherwise Possibility, Nancy Ambrose’s Imagination number 2″ (2017), mixed media on canvas, 36″x48”.

I am headed to Montréal this weekend for an event with the phenomenal Ashon Crawley entitled The Lonely Letters: On the Hammond B-3 Sense and Sound Experience. Collaboratively programmed by myself and Pip Day, The Lonely Letters will be hosted at SBC Gallery as a preface to SBC’s upcoming programme, which will be rooted in the practices of care, study and deep listening, while considering the potential and limits of institutions. If you are around Montréal on Saturday afternoon, come join us…

The Lonely Letters is an in-progress text of autobiofiction in which writer and philosopher Ashon Crawley collectively considers the relationship of quantum theory, mysticism and blackness through an engagement with the noisemaking practices of Blackpentecostal spaces. In focusing on the relationship between the Hammond B-3 organ and sense and sound experience, Crawley will perform a meditation between friends, and between would-be lovers, about how the performance of and the listening to the Hammond B-3—and its chord changes, arpeggios, volume, timbre and tone—can elucidate experiences of black social life. The Hammond B-3 organ is an under-thought instrument, despite its presence in Blackpentecostal spaces before church services begin, throughout their duration and after their end, punctuating the sounds of praise, prayer and preaching. Building on the work in Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (2017), this performative lecture will attempt to build connective tissue between what might seem to be disparate ways of thinking worlds known and unknown—the religious and the scientific, the noisy and the musical—with hopes of considering the epistemologies of quantum physics as Blackpentecostal.

Ashon Crawley is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. His research and teaching experiences are in the areas of Black studies, performance theory and sound studies, philosophy and theology, and Black feminist and queer theories. His first book, Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press, 2017) is an investigation of aesthetics and performance as modes of collective, social imaginings otherwise.

 

Standard
Happenings

OAAG Curatorial Writing Award

A couple years ago, Heather Anderson and Sandra Dyck of the Carleton University Art Gallery reached out to see if I’d be interested in writing a catalogue essay for an upcoming mid-career retrospective of Meryl McMaster‘s work. Meryl’s photographs have often compelled long and slow looking, and so I was excited to say yes and have a formal opportunity to put language to the way her images work on me. As things go, it turned out that the other essayist for the catalogue was to be my dear friend Gabrielle Moser. We travelled to Meryl’s studio together and spent a day in midst of stories with her, spinning two complementary but distinct takes on Meryl’s practice for the publication. Although we were looking at the same pictures and heard the same stories, I learned so much from Gabrielle’s framing and analysis of Meryl’s practice. And so, the sweet ending to this story is that Gabrielle and I were jointly awarded the Ontario Association of Art Galleries‘ award for curatorial writing (2000–5000 words) for our essays that appear in the Confluence catalogue.

Said the jurors: “[Gabrielle Moser’s and cheyanne turions’s] essays reflect complementary texts that examine Meryl McMaster’s process and elaborates on the artist’s self discovery through photography and performance, shedding light on how these two mediums intertwine in the artist’s work. The two texts are constructive and open-ended analyses of the in the makingness of the artist’s practice.”

Here’s to more thinking and making alongside each other…

Standard
Uncategorized

Closure

Wood Land School: Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha /Drawing Lines from January to December is now closed. Although I have chosen to no longer be a part of Wood Land School, I remain committed to interrogating the possibilities and limits of institutions, and to making a future that is more just than the histories we have inherited.

Standard
Considerations, Wood Land School

Taking up Space

Screen Shot 2017-11-01 at 19.15.18

View of “Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha / Drawing Lines from January to December.” Photo Paul Litherland.

Nearing the turn to the new year and thus the conclusion of Wood Land School: Kahatenhstánion tsi na’tetiatere ne Iotohrkó:wa tánon Iotohrha /Drawing Lines from January to December it is meaningful to have been given a chance to reflect on the project and its force. In “Taking Up Space: An Interview with the Wood Land School,” Art in America’s Sean J Patrick Carney posed a series of thoughtful questions to Tanya Lukin Linklater, Duane Linklater and myself about the project and about art institutions. With their future-tense inflection, these prompts point to the work that still, continually asks to be done, and in the twilight of Drawing Lines… I find myself easing into hope.

Standard