PROPONENT: Dylan Robinson

 PROJECT NAME: Intergenerational Responsibility as a Creative Act: Settler-Indigenous Encounters in the Public Sphere | A workshop between scholars and artists

PROJECT TYPE: theme group / event travel 


Hosted by UBC in August, 2014, this 5-day workshop / creative think-tank aims to provide a space for artists and scholars to think and create together around the topic of Indigenous public arts and interventions. This event is supported by the Insight Grant “Beyond Reconciliation: Indigenous Arts & Public Engagement after the TRC” led by Keavy Martin (PI), Dylan Robinson, Ashok Mathur, David Garneau, and Joanathan Dewar (CIs). This workshop is organized by Dylan Robinson. The workshop considers:

·     how public arts practices might invite the Settler publics to claim ‘intergenerational responsibility’ toward historical injustice and continuing internal colonization faced by First Peoples

·     artists developing new public art works, performances, and interventions that effect the non-Aboriginal Canadian public’s everyday lived understanding of Indigenous histories.

·     how public arts might used to educate and engage Canadians about Indigenous history and the social and political concerns of Indigenous communities.

By “public arts” the workshop includes all art forms presented in spaces of public gathering, in sites as diverse as malls and parks, and in forms as diverse as roadside billboards, bus shelter posters, and flash-mobs. While the term “public art” normally refers to forms of sculpture permanently installed public space, we expand this to include performance art, sound-based works, and site-specific performance. The workshops will involve Indigenous and Settler visual and performance artists, composers, playwrights, dramaturges, and scholars to discuss arts-based strategies for public engagement on Indigenous social and political issues.

Workshop Format: Each day will begin with 3 hours of presentation by artists, curators, performers and scholars on modes of public art and engagement. Examples include Robert Warrior giving a presentation about Edgar Heap of Birds’ Native Hostssigns and their vandalism, as well as Clint Burnham and Lorna Brown presenting an overview of the Digital Nativesproject. Other presenters will discuss relational artwork and community-driven projects. Following these presentations, our afternoons will be devoted to small-group discussion (3 per group) where over the course of the 5 days they will develop ideas for new public works/interventions. On the final day each group will give a talk and Powerpoint presentation about their ideas/proposals. 

PROJECT OUTCOME: The primary intention of the workshop is to bring Indigenous artists and scholars together with some of the leading scholars and artists working in the realm of public arts and performance intervention to consider how to address Indigenous social and political issues in public space. A secondary outcome is to interest artistic producers / presenters in developing some of these projects for presentation in future years. For this reason, the final day of the workshop will be devoted to the presentation of ideas that each of the groups has developed during the workshop. I will invite artistic presenters from the Vancouver area (Curators, festival producers), and a small number of national presenters.


TIMELINE: The workshop will be held in the first or second week of August, 2014.



INVOLVEMENT OF GRADUATE STUDENTS: One graduate student will be hired from UBC (with Insight Grant funds) to aid with conference organization. The workshop will include several graduate students from the Vancouver area, and Indigenenous graduate students in particular will be offered opportunities to take part in the workshop.