UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Decolonizing curatorial practice : acknowledging Indigenous curatorial praxis, mapping its agency, recognizing it's aesthetic within contemporary Canadian art Isaac, Jaimie Lyn


For decades, Indigenous art, artifacts and objects have had a contested history within galleries and museums. This is because Indigenous material culture was collected, interpreted, displayed and described through a Western colonial ideology, without Indigenous consent, intellectual or cultural contributions. The history represented in galleries and museums was deficient and perpetuated harmful myths and systemic racism. In order to substantiate change and demand for Indigenous leadership, it is necessary to understand the reality of the Indian as a dehumanized population, whose voice and knowledge in historical narratives has been systematically undermined, undergrounded and dismissed. More than 150 years of ‘education’ in the residential school systems, and forcible separation from Indigenous cultural traditions in ceremony, life ways and language, has affected more than seven generations. In the late 60s and early 70s Indigenous peoples en masse united to confront the disconnection from their cultural knowledge and language, and became a time of cultural resurgence and Indigenous renaissance. Indigenous Curatorial Praxis developed to assert, advance and frame Indigenous art as contemporary and relevant. By providing an historical context for its development, my main thesis seeks to identify and acknowledge the agency and aesthetic of Indigenous curatorial praxis and methodology. Indigenous curatorial practice is a stream of contemporary curatorial practice and this research seeks to recognize Indigenous methods embodied within the larger practice. This thesis inquires what it means to decolonize and Indigenize museum, gallery, and exhibition spaces and demonstrate how Indigenous curatorial contributions have affected the Canadian artistic landscape. The contextual genesis of my philosophy is rooted in a framework of Indigenous knowledge, decolonizing methods and my Anishnaabe-Indigenous familial, curatorial and artistic knowledge.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International