Reimagined Curatorial Practice: Land, Labour, and Community critically examines contemporary initiatives reshaping curation that move beyond western parameters of curation to offer something else. I am asking: How are curators reimagining curatorial praxis? How are curators intentionally caring for their practices to better care for those invited to contribute and for those who constitute their communities? How do these strategies replace, intervene, or work against or in conversation with settler-colonial models to establish accessible, ethical, equitable, and anti-racist spaces of art? Through experiential and archival research, I explore select curatorial models that operate in the intermediary space between setter-established organizations and non-dominant epistemologies, ontologies, and practices. I analyse the mechanisms of these examples in relation to the intersecting pillars of land, labour, and community to consider where and how they open up space for reimagining curation. I employ a decolonial feminist methodological approach to assess and make visible the colonial and patriarchal biases present in western curatorial praxes and to extend the scholarship on feminist and decolonial curation in Canada through models that centre direct action. Finally, I locate Canadian practices within international discourses that speak to instrumental change towards equity within dominant culture spaces and demonstrate praxes that have been built predominantly through relationships that support and underscore relational and land-based pedagogies. With emphasis on the relational methodologies that shape my own practice, my study is relative to the locations and practitioners from which and with whom these ideas have evolved, and my relationship to them.

This dissertation draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship and the British Columbia Arts Council Scholarship Award, and the ongoing financial support of The University of British Columbia Okanagan Graduate Award and the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

To get ready often means being prepared to be undone.” – Sara Ahmed, Living A Feminist Life, 2017. 

University of british columbia okanagan

Reimagined Curatorial Practice:
land, labour & community

BUSH Gallery Writers Union Retreat, August 2017. Collaborative installation of Ashok Mathur's A Little Distillery in Nowgong (2009). Photo: Toby Lawrence.