UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Space is a participant : strategies of activation and presence in the contemporary practice of Brian Jungen Ryner, Denise


Erasure and dislocation have proven to be effective catalysts for the work Court (2004) and the unrealized work The Treaty, both by Dane-zaa/Canadian artist Brian Jungen. Jungen's large-scale and multi-sited installations collapse and map diverse sites onto each other in order to engage with space as an element activated by labour, marginality, exploitation, ritual and presence. The site of Jungen's 2004 installation Court, was a gallery in a former garment sweatshop in Harlem, New York. Court's activation by Harlem's spaces of leisure and labour such as the basketball surface, the factory floor and the art gallery, gave form to local narratives of marginalization, exploitation and racism, thereby complicating exhibition viewers' assumptions of exclusion from Jungen's critiques. Similarly, Jungen's proposed work in 2006 for the Tate Modern in London entitled The Treaty intended to link the artist's home near Fort St. John in northeastern British Columbia to England by invoking a space that, through an 1899 treaty known as No. 8, facilitated the loss of sovereignty incurred by Jungen's indigenous ancestors and was shaped by the territorial claims committed in the name of the British monarchy. The production of space is often taken up by social art practices —such as relational and participatory art— as a means of critique and outreach. However, their tendency to delimit space as a secondary component disrupts the full realization of these works of art. In order to argue the merits of collaborating with space over its instrumentalization or circumscription, Jungen's work is dialectically juxtaposed with the deployment of spatial strategies of redress by artist Rebecca Belmore, the Situationists in 1960s Paris. Furthermore, by comparing the activated presence of space in Jungen's site specific work with strategies of Indigenous resistance and sovereignty including active presence, transmotion, interanimation, and sovenance outlined in the work of Gerald Vizenor, Keith H. Basso and the counter-mapping of the Stó:lō Nation in Canada this thesis proposes that space as an actor can expand the definition of participation in art.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada