States of Coloniality
This issue of FUSE was produced collaboratively with the e-fagia organization. Based in Toronto, e-fagia was founded in 2004 with the mandate of promoting digital art, focusing on Latin American and Canadian artists. A generous presence on the Toronto art scene, over the past decade e-fagia has produced dozens of publications, exhibitions, festivals and workshops. When they approached FUSE in late 2012 to discuss collaborating on their ambitious symposium, Decolonial Aesthetics from the Americas, we were immediately excited about the thematic crossover with our States of Postcoloniality series. A year later, we are proud to present to you the results of this partnership, which also serves as a reader for the Decolonial Aesthetics in the Americas symposium, scheduled for 10 – 12 October 2013.
Decoloniality is cast, by Walter Mignolo and other members of the Transnational Decolonial Institute, as the radical other of modernity-coloniality. Throughout a diffuse and influential body of work, they write of a decoloniality of knowledge, being and aesthetics. Within this framework, decolonial aesthetics acknowledges and subverts the presence of colonial power and control in the realm of the senses. A decolonial approach refers to a theoretical, practical or methodological choice geared toward delinking aesthetics, at the epistemic level, from the discourse of colonialism that is embedded in modernity itself.
With the symposium and this issue of the magazine, e-fagia and FUSE set out to explore the resonance of decoloniality in aesthetic practice across the disparate geographies of the Americas and the Caribbean. This proposition has been particularly stimulating because in the Canadian context, for the most part, vocabularies of decolonization and settler colonialism have been more prevalent than those of decoloniality. As such, we present here something of a fresh encounter, a new stimulus to ongoing and robust public discourse in Canada regarding the role of aesthetic practice in a decolonial era. Two contributors in particular, David Garneau and Gordon Brent Ingram, explicitly grapple with the relevance of a decolonial framework for Indigenous decolonization and settler colonialism in Canada.
The Short FUSE section provides us with a sampling of aesthetic practices that conjure decoloniality — from Indigenous site-based and public art in Vancouver, to the use of the Khabu or Tama (bastón de mando, “the stick”) by the Colombian Kiwe Thegnas (the Indigenous Guard), to ingenious and incessant culinary innovations with the ñame (yam), to the oeuvre of the late painter Denyse Thomasos. This issue also brings you rambunctious artist’s projects by Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa and Julie Nagam, and a collaborative offering curated by Gita Hashemi with Tannis Nielsen and Maryam Taghavi. Leah Decter and Carla Taunton present a feature-length conversation about their respective engagement of critical settler positions in their practices as artists, instructors and activists. In another feature article, Kency Cornejo presents the recent work of several young Indigenous Guatemalan artists.
In his review column, Richard William Hill offers a thoughtful assessment of the curatorial premise and theoretical underpinnings of the National Gallery’s massive international exhibition of Indigenous contemporary art, Sakahàn. Maiko Tanaka, member of the Read-in group, reflects on their recent public reading of Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I a Woman” (1863).
Finally, we wrap up the issue with reviews of Gita Hashemi’s exhibition Time Lapsed; Srimoyee Mitra’s group exhibition curated for the Art Gallery of Windsor, Border Cultures: Part One (homes, land); two recent exhibitions by Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen; and Gael García Bernal and Marc Silver’s Who is Dayani Cristal?
Next up will be an issue that looks at the role of artists and creative practice in the Idle No More movement. In the meantime, please join us for the Decolonial Aesthetics from the Americas conference in Toronto.
— Gina Badger, with Maria Alejandrina Coates, Julieta Maria and Rodrigo Hernandez-Gomez of e-fagia and the FUSE Editorial Committee
This issue is dedicated to Arlan Londoño (1962 – 2013), co-founder of e-fagia, artist, curator and thinker.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of this exuberant and generous co-conspirator, from whom we have all learned so much, and we dedicate the present work to his memory. We have included a project of Arlan’s alongside a text by Miguel Rojas-Sotelo and an obituary on pages 52 and 53 of our print edition.
Image credit: Julie Nagam, where white pines lay over the water (2013). Installation detail.