RED on RED: Indigeneity, Labour, Value - UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory

Wednesday May 11, 2022
10:00 AM - 7:00 PM

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RED on RED: Indigeneity, Labour, Value is a two-day gathering, which invites community and public participation, of artists, writers, researchers, and activists seeking to together probe and imagine ways of overcoming impasses in decolonial horizons through creative alternatives to traditional academic events. We meet on unceded ancestral Musqueam territory on May 11 to share art and research that explore the by-turns antagonistic and yet mutually embracing questions of racialization and of labour – both grounds of capital’s vociferous extractive techniques. We take both racialized oppression and value-productive exploitation to share a conjuncture that necessitates surmounting common external constraints imposed by capital’s colonization of everyday life, a second order of colonization compounding that of settler-state colonization. While the Indian Act dispossessed First Nations peoples of their resources and forms of life, the seemingly “free” sale of remaining lands and resources, including that of the labour power of Indigenous peoples, might be understood as anything but free, and instead as another order of coercive compulsion by capital and another round of dispossession possibly posing as self-determination.

Some shared questions to ponder together: To what extent have struggles against colonial oppression and the capitalist exploitation of labour-power – above all indigenous labour – lived in the shadow of each other’s blind spots? Does the sale (rather than seizure) of land and resources embedded within it liberate or doubly dispossess Indigenous peoples who continue to be stewards of the land, even as that sale might enrich the dispossessed in the short-term? Is the sale of labour-power one such resource or does it afford Indigenous peoples a path to self-determination within community? Is the value-productive sale of the commodity labour-power in the transactional and abstract space of the labour market just another form of colonial capture? Is decolonization authentically possible within a capitalist social rubric in which impersonal and transactional social relations dissolve community? (What would life outside a market-mediated relation look like for most of us now and especially for those who seek sovereignty within and against the colonial state? What does overcoming the settler state and the forms of possession it has sewn in us [identity, property] mean for Turtle Island now in practical terms, in everyday life?) And what of unseen Indigenous cultural and spiritual labour, unknown labour that is only shared within communities and for Indigenous witnesses? What is the value of Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural labour that facilitates ideas of social justice within institutional structures such as UBC? What are artists and historians doing to acknowledge the labour value of culture and how is this knowledge disseminated to students?

We hope to take these questions on through forms of embodied engagement, of art, performance practices, and through sharing research and conversation. We also hope to open these questions up to our communities across what is known as UBC and as Vancouver on these unceded and traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Coast Salish) peoples.

Participants: Sonny Assu, Dana Claxton, Glen Coulthard, Gord Hill, Peter Kulchyski, Jaleh Mansoor, Marianne Nicolson, Skeena Reece, Devin Z. Shaw, Marika Swan, Tania Willard


May 11, 2022
Gathering Schedule: Open to the Public
Room 1002 Audain Art Centre
6398 University Boulevard


Dana Claxton and Jaleh Mansoor welcome and contextualize the project

Gord Hill and Tania Willard, moderated by Jaleh Mansoor


Devin Z. Shaw and Glen Coulthard, moderated by Jaleh Mansoor

Lunch: 3rd-floor BFA studios, Room 3000

Marika Swan and Sonny Assu, moderated by Dana Claxton


Workshop dialogue hosted by Jaleh Mansoor with Marianne Nicolson and Peter Kulchyski

Skeena Reece Performance: 3rd-floor BFA studios, Room 3000

Reception: 3rd-floor BFA studios, Room 3000


*If you have already registered for this event, you do not need to register again


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Masks are required to be worn in public indoor spaces at UBC. Please bring a mask if you attend.

RED on RED is presented by the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia, supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 - 10:00