Towards Accountability: Art and Institutions on Indigenous Territories

Towards Accountability: Art and Institutions on Indigenous Territories is an event series curated and moderated by Jordan Wilson, ICI’s Inaugural Indigenous Curatorial Research Fellow.

The series will bring together artists, curators, and other thinkers who will share experiences and engage in conversation with one another over three sessions on the actions and responsibilities of contemporary art institutions, public art on Indigenous lands, and Indigenous curatorial and artistic practices. Throughout the series, the guiding concerns are Indigenous participation, actions, and desires in relation to contemporary art and its respective institutional practices.

Foregrounding the contexts specific to Indigenous peoples in North America, the discussions will aim to resonate more widely, connecting with the concerns of Indigenous peoples internationally and non-Indigenous marginalized communities. Respondents will be invited to draw connections across and beyond all three sessions and will share their written reflections following the discussions.

Participating speakers: asinnajaq, Lori Blondeau, Emily Johnson, Ange Loft, Kimberley Moulton, and Jackson Polys.

Respondents: Eva Mayhabal Davis, Denise Ryner, and Liz Park.

Session 1:
Public Art on Indigenous Lands
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
6pm EDT

ICI Online
Register here

The installation of public art frequently initiates conversation and even polarizing debate about the role of art in community; the artworks, artists, curators, and institutions often face intense scrutiny and critique from a broad array of community voices that may otherwise not typically engage with contemporary art. With growing public and civic recognition of Indigenous assertions of territory and sovereignty, these instances and the subsequent discourse are further complicated. What are the ‘limits’ of artistic freedom in regards to public art on Indigenous nations’ asserted territories? How have artists, curators, and institutions (whether galleries or cities/municipalities) navigated this terrain – and how is it shifting? How can Indigenous protocols, histories, and understandings of both place and relationality inform the development of public art projects?

Participating Speakers: Ange Loft and Kimberley Moulton.

Session 2:
Indigenous Curatorial and Artistic Practices
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
6pm EDT

ICI Online
Register here

The second convening will examine the ways in which Indigenous artists and curators have drawn on their community and family backgrounds in their respective practices, and how these distinct (and diverse) approaches may impart alternative modes of working in the context of contemporary art. In other words, how has an Indigenous ‘sensibility’ (to borrow from Nêhiyaw artist/facilitator Elwood Jimmy) informed artistic and curatorial practices, and in turn, how have these practices shifted institutional behavior? What lessons might Indigenous protocols, values, and ways of knowing to provide to not only Indigenous but also non-Indigenous professionals and practitioners in making the field of contemporary art more equitable and beneficial for BIPOC peoples? Alternatively, to what extent are such approaches translatable, or, put otherwise, should they be subject to cross-cultural exchange?

Participating Speakers: asinnajaq and Lori Blondeau.

Session 3:
Contemporary Art Institutions
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
6pm EDT

ICI Online
Register here

In response to the activism, scrutiny, and expressed concerns of diverse community voices, contemporary art institutions are increasingly examining their infrastructures and practices in order to support broader decolonial efforts and to shift their behavior and values. Indigenous artists and community members are steadily challenging institutions within their territories and beyond to better represent Indigenous artistic practices and to engage with communities in more sustained and meaningful ways. This session will account for the progress made thus far, and the ways in which this may be built on. How can different art institutions and arts professionals demonstrate accountability and responsibility in context-specific ways, and to local Indigenous nations in the work they do? What responsibility do they have to Indigenous artists and to communities more broadly conceived? In other words, how might arts institutions move beyond performative gestures such as land acknowledgments toward materially supporting the needs and desires of Indigenous communities and artists? How do decolonization efforts in contemporary art connect to broader interconnected struggles for justice and equity?

Participating Speakers: Emily Johnson and Jackson Polys.

This program was supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

October 5, 2021 - October 19, 2021



Asinnajaq is the daughter of Carol Rowan and Jobie Weetaluktuk. She is an urban Inuk from Inukjuak, Nunavik and lives in Tiohtià:ke (Montreal). Asinnajaq’s art practice spans many mediums from film to performance video, to curation, and much in between. She co-created Tilliraniit, a three-day festival celebrating Inuit art and artists. Asinnajaq wrote and directed Three Thousand (2017) a short sci-fi documentary. She co-curated Isuma’s presence in the ‘Canadian’ pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. She was longlisted for the 2020 Sobey Art Award. She co-curated the inaugural exhibition INUA at the Qaumajuq. Her installation “cradling river piece” is currently on view at the Plug-in ICA in When Veins Meet Like Rivers.

Lori Blondeau

Lori Blondeau is Cree/Saulteaux/Métis from Saskatchewan. Since the 1990s, Blondeau’s artistic practice in the fields of performance, photography and installation, along with her curatorial work and activities as co-founder and Executive Director of the Indigenous art collective TRIBE, has proved decisive to the ever-increasing centrality of Indigenous art and knowledge production in Canada. With her performances, which include Are You My Mother? (2000), Sisters (2002) and States of Grace (2007) and photographic work, including COSMOSQUAW (1996), Lonely Surfer Squaw (1997) and Asinîy Iskwew (2016), Blondeau’s practice, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with fellow Visual artists including Visual Artists James Luna, Rebecca Belmore, Shelly Niro and Adrian Stimson, demonstrates a clarity of focus which is remarkable for its precision, humour and strength. Her photographic and installation work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Kelowna Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton) and Remai Modern (Saskatoon) among numerous others. Her performance pieces have been showcased at Nuit Blanche (Saskatoon and Winnipeg), VIVO (Vancouver), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the 2007 Venice Biennial. Blondeau has participated in panel discussions and given lectures at the AGO, the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (Santa Fe) and the 2020 Sydney Biennale. Since 2018, Blondeau is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Art at the University of Manitoba School of Art; sat on the Advisory Panel for the Canada Council, Visual Arts program and served as a member of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective. Blondeau was a recipient of the 2021 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Eva Mayhabal Davis

Eva Mayhabal Davis (b. Toluca, Mexico) She/Her is a Co-Director at Transmitter, focusing on collaborative working models for exhibitions, text, and public programs. Independent curatorial projects have been hosted at BronxArtSpace, Expressiones Cultural Center, MECA International Art Fair, Queens Museum, Smack Mellon, and NARS Foundation. Her work in advocacy and equity for social justice values through the arts and culture is rooted through her work as an Intake Paralegal at UnLocal, Inc, a non-profit organization that provides direct legal aid and community education to New York City’s undocumented immigrant communities. She is a founding member of El Salón, a meetup for cultural producers based in NYC. She has spoken on her curatorial work at the Artist Space, Queens Museum, The 8th Floor, Brooklyn College, and Queensborough Community College. Her writing has been featured in exhibition catalogs and publications such as Foundwork, Arte Fuse, Art Spiel, the Hemispheric Institute’s Cuadernos, and Nueva Luz: Photographic Journal. She is an alumnus of the Art & Law Program Fellowship (2018), NALAC Leadership Advocacy Fellowship (2019), NYFA Leadership Boot Camp (2019), and Art & Cultural Heritage Law Program (2020). Based in occupied Lenapehoking (New York City).

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an organizer for justice, sovereignty and well-being. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment- interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.

Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was a co-compiler of the document, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and is part of an advisory group, with Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi, and Vallejo Gantner - developing a First Nations Performing Arts Network.

Ange Loft

Ange Loft is an interdisciplinary performing artist and initiator from Kahnawake Kanienkehaka Territory, working in Toronto. She is an ardent collaborator, consultant, facilitator, and mentor working in storyweaving, arts-based research, wearable sculpture, and Haudenosaunee history. Ange is also a vocalist with the Juno and Polaris nominated music collective YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN. Ange is Associate Artistic Director of Jumblies Theatre, where she directs the Talking Treaties initiative.

Kimberley Moulton

Kimberley Moulton is a Yorta Yorta woman and writer and curator. She is currently Senior Curator, South-Eastern Aboriginal Collections at Museums Victoria, and Artistic Associate for RISING Festival Melbourne. Kimberley works with knowledge, histories, and futures at the intersection of First Peoples historical and contemporary art and making. Kimberley has held curatorial and community arts development roles at Melbourne Museum for over ten years, in 2018 she was Museums Victoria’s lead curator for Mandela: My Life, an exhibition on Nelson Mandela at Melbourne Museum in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation Johannesburg and IEC exhibitions. In 2021 she was a co-curator for the inaugural Tri-Nations Indigenous Triennial at Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG-Qaumajuq) for Naadohbii: To Draw Water  a curatorial collaboration between Melbourne Museum Australia, Pataka Art + Museum New Zealand and WAG-Qaumajuq. In 2021 Kimberley developed the project MOVING OBJECTS with RISING festival and Museums Victoria which is a framework for sustained collection access with contemporary artists, supporting the transformative potential that museum collections can have with the community and critically engaging in themes of regeneration, disruption, and renewal. Independently Kimberley has written for publications worldwide and held curatorial and research fellowships across Europe, UK, U.S.A, South Asia, and North America with a focus on research around the intersection of First Peoples contemporary practice and historical archive. In 2019 Kimberley won the Power Institute Indigenous Art Writing Award and in 2020 was the co-editor for Artlink Indigenous 40.2 Kin Constellations: Languages Waters Futures. She is Alumni of the Wesfarmers Indigenous Leadership Program National Gallery of Australia and Director on the board for Barpirdhila Foundation, Shepparton Art Museum, and the International Art Critics Association Australia branch. Kimberley is currently a PhD Candidate in curatorial practice at Monash University Melbourne.

Liz Park

Liz Park is Richard Armstrong Curator of Contemporary Art at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. She was most recently Curator of Exhibitions at the University at Buffalo Art Galleries, State University of New York, and was Associate Curator of the 2018 Carnegie International. She has curated exhibitions at a wide range of institutions, including Western Front, Vancouver; The Kitchen, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Miller Institute for Contemporary Art at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; and Seoul Art Space Geumcheon. Her writing has been published by Afterall online, Afterimage, ArtAsiaPacific, Performa magazine, Fillip, Yishu: A Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Pluto Press, and Ryerson University Press, among others. She was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2011–12 and Whitney-Lauder Curatorial Fellow at ICA Philadelphia in 2013–15. Her research interests include mobility and migration as well as representations of violence in the colonial present.

Jackson Polys

Jackson Polys is a multi-disciplinary artist belonging to Tlingit territory, living and working between what are currently called Alaska and New York. He holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University (2015) and was the recipient of a 2017 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Mentor Artist Fellowship. He is a core contributor to New Red Order (NRO), a public secret society that, with an interdisciplinary network of Informants, co-produces video, performance, and installation works that confront desires for indigeneity, settler-colonial tendencies and obstacles to Indigenous growth and agency.  His individual and collaborative works have appeared at the Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum, Artists Space, Burke Museum, eflux, Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, Images Festival, MIT, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Museum of Modern Art, New York Film Festival, Park Avenue Armory, Sundance Film Festival, Union Docs, Toronto Biennial of Art, Walker Arts Center, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, including the Whitney Biennial 2019, among other institutions.

Denise Ryner

Denise Ryner is the Director/Curator at Or Gallery, Vancouver (2017-present). She’s also an associate curator in collaboration with Anselm Franke at the Visual Arts and Film Department of Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. 

Her curatorial, research, and writing interests include place-as-agent in exhibition-making and the cultural production of transnational counterflows of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 2019 she co-organized the Bodies, Borders, Fields symposium with writer Yaniya Lee. Independent curatorial projects include Common Cause: before and beyond the global (Mercer Union/Toronto, 2018), Bodies of Fact: The Archive from Witness to Voice (HKW/Berlin, 2017), Harbour/Haven, in collaboration with Tonel (‘thirstDays’ VIVO Media Arts/Vancouver, 2016), Interim Measures (8-11 Project Space,  Toronto, 2015), Projections at the Perel (SFU Galleries/SWARM 2015) and Rain or Shine Saturdays (SFU Galleries). She has written for Canadian Art, Blackflash, C Mag,  FUSE, and guest co-edited Canadian Art’s Fall 2020 Chroma issue with Yaniya Lee.  She has taught in ECUAD’s Curatorial Studies program as both a guest and sessional lecturer.

Jordan Wilson

Jordan Wilson is an emerging curator and scholar and is currently a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at New York University. He is a member of the Musqueam First Nation, in what is now Vancouver, British Columbia, and holds an MA in Anthropology and a BA in Indigenous Studies, both obtained at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Prior to starting graduate studies, Wilson was a Curatorial Intern at UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (2017-2018), where he contributed to the exhibition Beginning with the Seventies: Collective Acts (2018). Wilson’s current research examines the politics of Indigenous language revitalization, the legacies of anthropological collecting, the practices of collecting institutions, as well as questions concerning Indigenous sovereignty and settler colonialism. His curatorial practice often involves considering the forms of relationships contemporary Indigenous peoples maintain with their ancestral art, material culture, and immaterial heritage currently held by colonial institutions, and the potential of Indigenous art in the public realm. This work is informed by desires for structural change in institutions with regard to Indigenous representation and engagement, as well as a commitment to the well-being of his home community. Wilson was a co-curator of c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city (2015), an exhibition developed collaboratively with Musqueam; and the long-term exhibition In a Different Light: Reflecting on Northwest Coast Art (2017) at the UBC Museum of Anthropology. His writing has appeared in Inuit Art Quarterly, The Capilano Review, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, and Museum Worlds. He is also a writer and co-editor of the forthcoming book Where the Power Is: Indigenous Perspectives on Northwest Coast Art (Fall 2021).

event updates

NEW YORK, NY 10013
T: +1 212 254 8200 F: +1 212 477 4781
E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)