9 February 2022 2pm
fORUM: Nasrin Himada invites Sebastian De Line, Michelle Jacques, Yaniya Lee, and Jocelyn Piirainen to speak in conversation. This program is the final event in a series organized by Himada that extend on the themes of Onyeka Igwe’s exhibition, THE REAL STORY IS WHAT’S IN THAT ROOM.
In this final program of let it matter what we call a thing, we delve into the conundrums of museum collections and sanctioned archives rooted in colonial histories, with guidance from curators and writers Sebastian De Line, Michelle Jacques, Yaniya Lee, and Jocelyn Piirainen.
let’s begin: as in, how do we begin the work once we enter the collections and archives that house histories and legacies inherently connected to dispossession and violence? How do we then change the story, give space to new interpretations, and, as Jacques offers, “expand access?”1 In considering the experience of each speaker, we discuss strategies and the processes of delving in. Namely, of the ways in which caring for living entities forces the museum to confront its operations and caring for the ones taken from their communities enables different modes of ethical considerations of repatriation.
let’s begin is an invitation to begin again and again, until everything is changed, and then it changes again.
1Lee, Yaniya. “Expanding Access: An Interview with Michelle Jacques.” Canadian Art, April 1, 2021. https://canadianart.ca/interviews/expanding-access-an-interview-with-michelle-jacques/.
Download the PDF transcript here.
Sebastian De Line is an artist, Associate Curator, Indigenous Care and Relations at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Their doctoral research focuses on the manufacturing of capitalist values and economies that transform agential Indigenous and racialized Ancestors into labouring “objects” of extraction, accumulation and consumption determined by acquisition criteria within museum collections. Publications include the Journal of Visual Culture and Junctures.
Michelle Jacques is a curator, writer and educator. She is the Head of Exhibitions and Collections/Chief Curator at Remai Modern, situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. She was the Chief Curator at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in British Columbia for 8 years and has held curatorial positions in the contemporary and Canadian departments at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. She has made a long-term commitment to growing the relevance of visual art museums.
Yaniya Lee was a member of the editorial team at Canadian Art magazine from 2017–21 and joined the Archives Books publishing collective earlier this year. She has interviewed artists and written about art for museums, galleries and print publications locally and internationally. She was a founding collective member of MICE Magazine and is a member of the EMILIA-AMALIA working group. Lee has been a part of Mercer Union’s Board of Directors since 2020.
Jocelyn Piirainen is an urban Inuk, originally from Iqaluktuuttiaq, NU. Since 2019, she has been working as the Associate Curator of Inuit Art at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Qaumajuq. A graduate from Carleton University, her educational background has primarily focused on the arts, particularly film and new media. When not working as a curator, her artistic practice primarily involves analog photography and film — mostly experimenting with Polaroids and Super 8 film — as well as honing her crochet and beading skills. She has contributed to publications such as Canadian Art, Canadian Geographic and the Inuit Art Quarterly.
fORUM is Mercer Union’s ongoing series of talks, lectures, interviews, screenings and performances. Free as always.
Mercer Union’s 2021–22 Online Engagement Supported by TD Bank Group.