Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wood Land School

This weekend Or Gallery and SFU Galleries presented Wood Land School: Critical Anthology.

Wood Land School is "an ongoing project, usually in flux and with no current place but always with particular places in mind. Projects have taken such forms as exhibitions, talks, seminars, residency, and an upcoming book of criticism in 2016." Participants include Raymond Boisjoly, David Horvitz, Tanya Lukin-Linklater, Duane Linklater and Walter Scott.

For Wood Lands School's sixth iteration, Linklater commissioned texts by the above (save Horvitz, who did not participate), as well as texts by David Garneau, Candice Hopkins, Amy Kazymerchyk, Liz Park, Postcommodity and Cheyanne Turions (pictured above). I do not have access to the directives these artists and curators were given, but in the symposium description Linklater expresses a need to "address the lack of critical writing on the work of contemporary Indigenous artists" -- a disingenuous claim if ever there was one, but, in the mostly unceded province of British Columbia, where claims are made without consequences, a claim I can live with. 

I could not attend all of the symposium's presentations and Q+A, but I was there for Linklater's introduction; all but the reading of Postcommodity's paper; and Walter Scott's Sunday morning opener. The two things I retained from Linklater's introduction -- the two concepts that seemed to float in and out of everything I heard on those days -- concerned 1) Linklater's introduction of "simultaneity" (sans reference to its use in physics, law and music) and 2) his use of the term "refusal," where one reserves the right to not answer to or participate in that which is asked of him or her.

Of course there was more to this symposium, all of which I am hoping will be made available through the Or's ongoing program of podcasts. In the meantime, some of what I heard this weekend is finding its way into the plenary speech I am writing for Brock University's The Concept of Vancouver conference this October, where I intend to speak of Vancouver not as a unique site of "photo-conceptual" art or "language" poetics, but one where indigenous people are given symbolic power (art), not political economic power (self-determination through the treaty process), and how this lack of recognition has shaped Vancouver, cursed it, made it the city it is deserves to be.

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