Curating Resistance, Resisting Curation: The Decolonial Possibilities and Limitations of Objects in Institutions
This talk critically examines the notion, put forth by scholars of decolonial museology such as Ruth Philips, that the ‘inclusion’ of objects from non-Western visual cultures in the archives and galleries of Canada’s public cultural institutions constitutes a radical shift in those institutions’ aims and social outcomes. This argument is developed through the use of decolonial scolarship — such as that of Himani Bannerji and Richard Day– which examines the ways that the project of Official Canadian Multiculturalism is complicit in projects of White Supremacy. Though ‘representation’ is a laudable (and sadly challenging) institutional goal, this talk argues that its achievement within existing structures may only further canonize exploitative relations between those who collect and the sites of collection.
This talk will be accompanied by a series of projected, animated images which complicate the above thesis through the use of embodiment, satire, and juxtapositon. Using elements from the visual traditions of the Ottoman miniature, these animations self-referentially undermine and enrich the talk, so that the presentation might be that of a discourse, rather than a monologue. As part of a scholarly-artistic praxis, this dual methodology seeks to proffer creative possibilities as it simultaneously deconstructs existing systems of knowledge, as well as critiquing the patina of abstracted truth that academic vernacular lends.
Pansee Atta examines issues of migration, culture, resistance and belonging as part of her artistic/ academic/activist practice. She lives and works in Ottawa and Kingston, and is currently completing an MA in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University.