WINNIPEG ART GALLERY Opens September 22
In this interdisciplinary exhibition, the co-curators connect 28 artists across generations and territories to explore the insurgence and the resurgence of Indigenous culture, nationhood, activism, survival and solidarity.
JULIE NAGAM AND JAIMIE ISAAC: To only say “resurgence” shortens the time frame; “insurgence” says that Indigenous peoples have always been resisting, and that’s the strength of our intergenerational cultural knowledge. Indigenous peoples have been present for millennia, and we’ve always been cultural producers in ways that have been shaped very differently from mainstream avant-garde art.
Our curatorial engagement takes a geographic and nation-based approach to focus on the multidisciplinary practices of emerging to mid-career artists, with a few more established artists, to think about the complications and politics within nationhood, the complications of cultural solidarity and diversity and the complications of land politics.
Co-curating in a large, mainstream gallery is a departure from traditional curatorial practices, and when we say “co-curating,” we mean a full collaboration within the whole genealogy of Indigenous methodologies that have been thinking about resistance and survivance for a long time. We’re building on the legacy of collaboration in the Indigenous circle of curators in Canada and beyond on exhibitions such as “Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art” at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; “Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years” at Plug In ICA in Winnipeg; and “Moving Forward Never Forgetting”at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina.
We’re both interested in drastically changing the physical scope of an exhibition within the Wag—all 10,000 square feet and up to four gallery spaces—and outside the building. Some of the pieces will be larger external interventions, and others will involve taking up as much space as possible within the gallery. We’re working with 28 artists—16 loans and 12 new commissions—a performance by Earthline Tattoo Collective, who will set up a tattoo shop, and an installation by Tanya Lukin Linklater. We’re partnering with Wall to Wall, a mural festival; we’re hosting a three-day symposium to discuss Indigenous futures with Indigenous Canadian, American and Oceanian scholars; and we’re hosting a day of Indigenous video games for a familyoriented gathering. We’re getting input from the larger community to try to broaden the scope of who comes into the WAG, and engage with different groups of people who have never come into the gallery. That’s quite a radical shift for classic museum practices. When it comes to making space and asserting
presence through coded language: weõre not spelling out what it is to be Indigenous. Thereõs a refusal of subscribed or prescribed ideas of Indigeneity. We confront that, but weõre thinking more about insurgence and resurgence within peopleõs work, their politics, their nationhood, their culture. In terms of settler engagement, we donõt think there has to be anything that spells out, Òthis is what this is; we are translating our Indigeneity so you can understand .ó Winnipeg has one of the fastest-growing Indigenous populations in Canada. We have strength in that and we want to showcase it.