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Breaking Protocol arises from a series of private, unstructured conversations held over Zoom in 2021, to which Anishinaabek artist and 2020–2022 Borderlands Fellow Maria Hupfield invited a group of international Indigenous performance artists. Ranging from makers to stand-up comedians, these artists in turn invited other performers to join these conversations staged as a series of informal coffee breaks, creating an intimate virtual community grounded in trust and collaboration. At a time when performance and collective gathering were severely constrained, these intimate dialogues provided a space for critical thinking on performance as a means of embodying and activating Indigenous knowledge, and for thinking through accountability with Indigenous lands and peoples. Throughout these exchanges, themes of language, artistic process, sexuality, loss, and joy proliferate, as participants discuss performance as both theory and practice.


Forthcoming from Inventory Press and Vera List Center in spring 2023, Breaking Protocol brings together over twenty contributions by participants in these conversations whose works reflect diverse approaches to grounding Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty, and critical accountability. With photo essays, poetry, short stories, and other written reflections, the book illuminates processes of documenting performance, or the performative, through an Indigenous lens.


Ultimately, Breaking Protocol poses the questions: How do we translate performance as a living art form connected to specific bodies, peoples, and land, to book form while avoiding the pitfalls of the archive as a static object? What stories become political agents in the liberation of the archive from its colonial underpinnings and structure? What can we learn from Indigenous artistic modes of making and practice that art based in notions of place to open spaces for reciprocity and multiplicity?


Introduction by Maria Hupfield with contributions by Rebecca Belmore, Lori Blondeau, Pelenakeke Brown, Katherine Carl, Re’al Christian, Christen Clifford, TJ Cuthand, Vanessa Dion Fletcher, Akiko Ichikawa, Suzanne Kite, Charles Koroneho, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Jackson 2Bears Leween, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Cathy Mattes, Meagan Musseau, Julie Nagam, Wanda Nanibush, Peter Morin, Archer Pechawis, Rosanna Raymond, Skeena Reece, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Charlene Vickers, and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, and an afterword by Carin Kuoni.