The current issue of FUSE closes out the century with a site-specific theme. Margot Francis shows us how Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan’s Lesbian National Parks and Services Project (which made a partial appearance as an artists’ project in vol. 21, no. 3) unsettles the Canadian tourist site par excellence – Banff National Park – and problematizes the figure of the kindly, helpful park ranger.
Contributors: Nahed Mansour and Bassam El Baroni (ACAF); Denise Ryner and Babak Radboy (Bidoun Library); Damon Kowarsky; Olive McKeon; Joseph Banh, Moataz Nasreldin (Darb 1718), Mia Jankowicz (CIC) and William Wells (Townhouse); Themba Lewis; Aliza Ma, Rasha Salti and Gabe Klinger; Anna Feigenbaum; Francisco-Fernando Granados; Leila Timmins.
To describe our state as postcolonial is not to say that colonialism is over, a thing of the past, but instead to insist on a certain historical continuity. It is a gesture against willful forgetting, a taking account of particular lineages of subjugation in order to underscore the importance of resistance, sovereignty and solidarity in the present. It acknowledges an extended age of empire…
Sound artist Dipna Horra uses field and voice recordings to create aural environments that simultaneously present a sense of location and dislocation. With Avaaz, Horra recounts a narrative of migration from India to Africa and then Canada, a narrative that undergoes translation and transposition. Horra’s sound installation consists of a central table set for tea, a wheeled tea trolley in the corner, a suspended window pane on the left of the gallery space and an unobtrusive air vent at our feet. Simple furniture, understated architectural features and fine china are the conduits through which the sound artefacts, that tell the artist’s story are emitted. Horra’s kitchen installation is a theatrical space in which the continuity of ancestral memory both reassures and unsettles.
Last March, a considerable number of artists, curators and cultural workers from Canada and abroad added their names to an open letter addressed to Marc Mayer, Director of the National Gallery of Canada, for a series of comments he made during a CBC report on diaspora art and the cultural politics of public institutions (CBC, “Diaspora Art,” The National, February 2, 2010). Mayer’s comments to reporter Jelena Adzic can be summarized with the following quote: “Our real mandate is excellence. We do think about diversity, however… We put on what we find in the Canadian art scene that is excellent and we’re blind to colour or ethnic background, or even whether you were born in Canada, we don’t care. (…) We’re looking for excellent art. We don’t care who makes it.”