For the duration of 2017, SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art will be renamed and operate as the Wood Land School. This is the continuation of a conversation, and it is the forging of new relationships. From an initial position of Indigenous self-determination and collectivity, we situate ourselves as impacted upon by forces both nurturing and destructive; we work to be aware of our own participation in dispossession; and we consider our capacity to articulate new ways of being in relation. Structured as a single exhibition unfolding over the course of a year, Wood Land School: Drawing a Line from January to December recognizes the power of line to mark history and invoke memory, proposing a line without beginning or end as a space to collaboratively imagine Indigenous futurity.
Contemporary civic institutions and social structures are built upon systems that have silenced, ignored and destructively classified Indigenous people, ideas and objects. In response to this history, Wood Land School calls upon institutions to give intellectual and physical labour, philosophical and physical space, time, and funds to support Indigenous ideas, objects, discursivity and performance. In Wood Land School’s six-year history, it has come into relation with many kinds of institutions through a framework of treaty, wherein we have accepted and shared in the responsibilities of realizing these many projects. Foregrounding Indigenous history and presence on this land now known as Canada, in a place now known as Montreal, Wood Land School: Drawing a Line from January to December attempts to create a space of critical reflection and re-imagination, where the tenets of treaty—mutual accountability, reciprocity, relation across difference and stewardship of resources—can be enacted.
Wood Land School is an experimental space where Indigenous thought and theory are centred, embodied, mobilized, and take shape as practice through exhibition and pedagogy. Wood Land School does not seek to summarize Indigenous identity, but rather to honour specific, embodied expressions of inheritance and becoming.
The scope of the contexts we operate within and in relation to include the historical, which is akin to theory, and the contemporary, which is akin to practice. Wood Land School aims to be a space for listening, where we can tend to the urgency of current conditions as they unfold—both systemic and material—with an eye to how (and how else) these circumstances can shape our everyday lives. It operates with an awareness that settler colonialism is ever present, enacted in and on Turtle Island in various forms. Wood Land School is the theorization and practice of centering Indigeneity. Our primary relationships are Indigenous to Indigenous, which includes land and non-humans. We also extend our conversations with and to other communities and publics, working in and through a treaty relationship, to re-frame conversations in a way that centres Indigenous agency. The impact of this project will be determined by many viewers over time.
We wonder, how do the relationships between theory, practice and pedagogy manifest across the complexity and diversity of Indigenous identities, and in relation to settler colonial positionings? What does it mean for a settler-colonial institution to unknow its power? What does it mean to memorialize and dream in relation? How to collectively tend to the becoming of the future?
—Duane Linklater, Tanya Lukin Linklater and cheyanne turions with Walter Scott
Wood Land School is an ongoing project with no ﬁxed location or form. First instigated by Duane Linklater, Wood Land School: Drawing a Line from January to December is organized by Duane Linklater, Tanya Lukin Linklater and cheyanne turions, with Walter Scott.
In its malleability, Wood Land School seeks critical engagements within the realms of representation, ﬁlm, contemporary art, land and politics in Turtle Island and beyond. It emerges out of Linklater's investigation into Indigenous artists based in northern Ontario in the 1970s, whose work engaged both ancient and contemporary Indigenous art forms. Each iteration of Wood Land School carries forth a commitment to address the lack of structural inclusion of Indigenous people, both historically and in the now, in a multiplicity of institutional spaces. It is a conceptual and physical space for Indigenous people, with Indigenous people deciding its directions, structures and functions. An important additional component of Wood Land School is the inclusion of non-Indigenous people who are invited to engage with the complex realities of Indigenous artworks, experiences, ideas and spaces.
Wood Land School began in 2011 with the making of a small exhibition of works selected by Linklater in a small office/studio space located above the Necessities convenience store (selling “Native Crafts, Fireworks, Cigarettes”) on Nipissing First Nation in Northern Ontario. This location was transformed into the Wood Land School, an open and contemplative space for the present. This activation and investigation of space is an ongoing and never-ending task that must be portable, because walls should not obstruct the circulation or behaviour of ideas. Since then, Wood Land School has taken many forms including residencies, seminars, ﬁlm screenings and discursive happenings shaped by many participating artists, writers and thinkers along the way.
Previous iterations of Wood Land School include the following:
Wood Land School: Exhibition, Nipissing First Nation, Ontario, 2011
with Raymond Boisjoly, David Horovitz, Duane Linklater, Tanya Lukin Linklater and Walter Scott
Wood Land School: What color is the present? The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta, 2013
Facilitated by Brian Jungen, Duane Linklater and Wendy Red Star
Wood Land School: The Exiles, Artscape Gibralter Point, Toronto Island, Ontario, 2013
Facilitated by Duane Linklater
Wood Land School: On 12 Years a Slave, Art Metropole, Toronto, Ontario, 2013
Facilitated by cheyanne turions
Wood Land School: In the land of the Head Hunters, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2014
with Raymond Boisjoly, Marcia Crosby and Duane Linklater
Wood Land School: Critical Anthology (symposium), Or Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2016
with Raymond Boisjoly, David Garneau, Richard Hill, Candice Hopkins, Amy Kazymerchyk, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Liz Park, Postcommodity, Walter Scott and cheyanne turions
Wood Land School: Thunderbird Woman, Plug In ICA, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2016
with Jamie Isaac and Duane Linklater
Wood Land School: Critical Anthology (publication), Or Gallery and SFU Galleries, Vancouver, British Columbia, forthcoming
with Raymond Boisjoly, David Garneau, Candice Hopkins, Amy Kazymerchyk, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Liz Park, Postcommodity, Walter Scott, cheyanne turions and Jordan Wilson