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Sharing indigenous knowledge and histories in digital era

Transmissions conference to explore current practices in contemporary indigenous art and culture
February 13, 2013
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By Renée Dunk

More than 20 of Canada’s leading aboriginal artists, scholars and curators will gather at Concordia at the end of February to explore how the creation and preservation of indigenous art and culture has evolved in the face of 21st-century digital technologies.

Skins 2.0 Skahionati approaches the Stone Giant, from the The Adventure of Skahionati - Legend of the Stone Giant game prototype 2012 © AbTeC, Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace

Transmissions: Sharing Indigenous Knowledge and Histories in the Digital Era is a three-day public symposium being organized by Concordia’s Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence (CEREV). Assistant Professor Heather Igloliorte, who joined the Faculty of Fine Arts last September as an aboriginal art historian, is leading the project.

“Transmissions will be a gathering of people from across Canada doing fascinating things in contemporary art right now,” says Igloliorte. “As a new faculty member, it’s exciting to have everyone here at Concordia for this event.”

Symposium attendees can expect to participate in discussions about the confluence of history and digital culture, the challenges and possibilites of film and new technologies, and current aboriginal curatorial practice — how artists and curators are integrating digital resources and digital artistic content into their work.

“One of the things that digital arts does is show that tradition is living, dynamic and continuous,” she says. “The artists featured in Transmissions work with aboriginal knowledges and oral history and other aspects of their cultures in really exciting, forward-thinking ways.”

Symposium events, which are free and open to the public (but have limited seating), include a workshop with filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril about her in-progress film that examines the impact of the European seal fur ban on Canadian Inuit, as well as a screening of her acclaimed film Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos. There will also be a presentation by Ruth Phillips, Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Art and Culture (Carleton University), about the Harper government’s recent rebranding of the Canadian Museum of Civilization as the Canadian Museum of History, and an interactive art installation by Jordan Bennett, artist-in-residence at the University of Alberta. A full day of panel presentations and round-table discussions is also planned.

“This conference will show what’s going on right now in contemporary indigenous art, and how indigenous artists, curators and scholars are claiming space in the contemporary art world,” Igloliorte says.

What:  Transmissions: Sharing Indigenous Knowledge and Histories in the Digital Era
When:  Thursday, February 28, to Saturday, March 2, 2013
             (complete schedule of events and speakers on the CEREV website)
Where:  Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.), Sir George Williams Campus

Admission to all events is free of charge but registration is required for many of the events. To register, please send an email to transmissionsconcordia@gmail.com.

Schedule of events:

•    Thursday, February 28, from 1 to 3 p.m.:
Workshop with filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril
(Due to space restrictions, admission to this event is by invitation only – please contact transmissionsconcordia@gmail.com to register)

•    Friday, March 1, from 1 to 3 p.m.:
Discussion with Ruth Phillips, “Museum Utopias, Museum Dystopias: The Dawning of the Age of Hybridity and the Canadian Museum of History.”
(Due to space restrictions, admission to this event is by invitation only – please contact transmissionsconcordia@gmail.com to register)

•    Friday, March 1, from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Room EV-1.615:
Film Screening:  Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos, followed by a question-and-answer session with Alethea Arnaquq-Baril

•    Friday, March 1, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Room EV-11.635:
Interactive Art Installation by Jordan Bennett, Skull Stories

•    Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Room EV-1.615:
Public symposium with panel presentations and roundtable discussions, featuring artists, curators, and scholars of indigenous art

Related links:
•    Centre for Ethnographic Research and Exhibition in the Aftermath of Violence
•    Department of Art History
•    Faculty of Fine Arts
•    Heather Igloliorte
•    Event listing on Facebook



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