Saturday, 31 August 2013






Lisa Jackson, Savage, 2009. Photo: Kris Krüg

September 6-December 1, 2013

OPENING EVENTS: Saturday, September 7

1-2 pm: Performance of Joane Cardinal-Schubert's The Lesson by Justin Cardinal-Schubert

2-4 pm: Opening remarks and reception

SYMPOSIUM: Friday, November 15
Traumatic Histories, Artistic Practice and Working from the Margins

Witnesses: Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools presents artists who have produced work arising from the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and coincides with, but is independent from, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada National Event that will take place in Vancouver from September 18 to 21, 2013. 
The exhibition features artists from British Columbia and across Canada, and is cross-generational to include those who directly experienced Indian Residential Schools as well as those who are witnesses to its ongoing impact.
 There is a sense in which we all must be witnesses. 
Witnesses aims to contribute to the education of the public about Indian Residential Schools, to illustrate how this issue has become embedded in Canadian art history and to demonstrate the strong social and cultural capacity of art. Combined, the works in the exhibition represent a convergence of various voices addressing this often difficult aspect of Canada’s colonial history.
The exhibition includes iconic historical works by artists such as Joane Cardinal-Schubert, Alex Janvier and Norval Morrisseau, as well as more recent work and special commissions by some of Canada’s most respected contemporary artists. Works have been sourced from across Canada and borrowed from artists, collectors and museums. Other artists include Gerry Ambers, Carl Beam, Rebecca Belmore, Chris Bose, Cathy Busby, Beau Dick, Faye HeavyShield, Lisa Jackson, Gina Laing, Peter Morin, Jamasie Pitseolak, Skeena Reece, Sandra Semchuk and James Nicholas, Henry Speck, Adrian Stimson, Tania Willard and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Public and educational programming will include guided tours, lectures, artist talks, performances and online programs.
Witnesses is curated by Geoffrey Carr, Dana Claxton, Tarah Hogue, Shelly Rosenblum, Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Keith Wallace and Scott Watson. This project is made possible with the generous support of the Audain Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, the British Columbia Arts Council and our Belkin Curator’s Forum members. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the UBC Hampton Fund.




Upcoming: November 15, 2013





The symposium will convene around questions arising from the exhibition, including curatorial issues, the role of artistic practice in reconciliation (along with a fundamental investigation of the concept of reconciliation) and a broader theoretical discussion around modernity and indigeneity. 
The project of modernization in Canada, as elsewhere, attempted to segregate, assimilate and erase indigenous culture, leading to policies such as the Indian Residential School system. 
In this process, the artistic practices of Indigenous peoples has been both marginalized and, at the same time, an important tool for cultural vitality and survivance. 
In what ways have artworks taking up these often-neglected aspects of modernity come to shape current practice in art and art history? What kind(s) of curatorial imperatives can, or ought to, contribute to the project of art & reconciliation? These are just some of the critical questions we hope to address together during the symposium.
Panel One: Curating Difficult Histories
Participants will discuss the current climate of curating contemporary Indigenous/Aboriginal art. What recent shifts in methodology have occurred and in what ways are localized histories, belief systems and practices being integrated into the broader discourse around contemporary art? How do exhibitions that grapple with difficult issues affect the future direction of Indigenous/Aboriginal art? Is there a new terminology developing in Art History that can address the work of Indigenous artists in more nuanced ways?
Panel Two: Art and Reconciliation?
The term “reconciliation” has provoked a wide range of reactions in its use by the Canadian government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What does this term suggest and what does it occlude? Are there alternatives? Where does art that addresses traumatic histories sit in relation to this discussion? How do artists participate in reconciliatory practices in their art works? Should Indigenous artists be responsible for making such gestures? This latter question is related to the relationship between art and healing as well, as in, how do artworks dealing with trauma contribute to healing either the artist or the public?
Panel Three: Modernity and Indigeneity
Current discourse around contemporary Indigenous art, as in other areas, has been shaped by and in response to the history of colonization and modernity across the Americas. How has the growing body of literature about and by Indigenous peoples affected the way we view modernity, and in turn, how are contemporary issues of land claims, sovereignty and cultural practice affected by this discussion?
Visit us again for details regarding the time and location of symposium

university of british columbia
1825 main mall
vancouver, british columbia,
canada v6t 1z2

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