Native Art Department International: Bureau of Aesthetics at KADIST San Francisco

12 October 2019 - 25 January 2020
Opening Reception 12 October 2019 4pm


Mercer Union is the inaugural guest of the Art-Space Residency and Exhibition at KADIST San Francisco. Mercer Union has conceived the residency as an incubator to consider the approach to institutions working small-scale. Together, both organizations take up a series of questions around collaboration with Native Art Department International (NADI), a collaborative project by Toronto-based artists Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. 

Mercer Union is considered a leader amongst artist-run culture in Canada, placing artists at the centre of the organization’s activities to operate as an exhibition space, production platform, research site and resource for the dissemination of knowledge. Mercer Union’s approach focuses on long-term and close collaborations with artists to articulate the stakes in their practice. For Mercer Union, this ethos is vital to working small-scale and enables the development and mediation of critical and complex artistic endeavours. This main objective offers the starting point for Mercer Union’s residency at KADIST and NADl’s exhibition, Bureau of Aesthetics

At KADIST, NADI presents a selection of objects that highlight, through their art-making process, how collaboration and cooperation might interrogate art history and strengthen communities. Through a multi-disciplinary practice–comprising performance, sculpture, and video–NADI engage collaborative and collective action as strategies to challenge essentialist readings of contemporary artworks projected onto Indigenous cultural producers. Working across international contexts, NADI’s projects and exhibitions work to liberate artworks and aesthetics from reductive classifications and fetishization ingrained in colonial systems of power and interpretation.

Each work on view takes up varying methods of collaboration that NADI has employed throughout their practice. In a gesture of acknowledging the long history of collective action that underpins institutional critique within the history of art, the artists have connected with collectives based in the Bay Area. These conversations will continue throughout the course of the exhibition evolving in myriad ways including a display of ephemera in KADIST’s library and street-facing windows. The collectives include Borderline Art Collective, East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, ONE+ONE+TWO, Project Kalahati, Sanctuary City Project, Slingshot, Street Sheet/Coalition on Homelessness, and 3.9 Collective.

Bureau of Aesthetics is NADI’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast and precedes NADI’s first solo exhibition in Canada at Mercer Union in March 2020. Mercer Union’s residency marks the launch of KADIST’s Art-Space Residency in San Francisco.


Native Art Department International (NADI) is a collaborative long-term project created and administered by Maria Hupfield (Canada) and Jason Lujan (US). NADI’s projects and exhibitions work to liberate artworks and aesthetics from reductive classifications and fetishization ingrained in colonial systems of power and interpretation.

KADIST believes contemporary artists make an important contribution to a progressive society, their work often addressing key issues of our time. KADIST, a non-profit organization dedicated to exhibiting the work of artists represented in its collection, encourages this engagement and affirms contemporary art’s relevance within social discourse. Its programs develop collaborations with artists, curators and many art organizations around the world, facilitating new connections across cultures. Local programs in KADIST’s hubs of Paris and San Francisco include exhibitions, public events, residencies and educational initiatives. Complemented by an active online network, they aim at creating vibrant conversations about contemporary art and ideas. Offering a space for experimentation, KADIST’s Art-Space Residency delocalizes context-relevant practices in order to foster new perspectives on discussions taking place locally and beyond. Prior art spaces in residence at KADIST Paris are States of Concept, Athens (2018) and Hangar, Lisbon (2019).

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