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October 6, 2022

Classroom: Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore

Art & Education

“Navigation Below the Imperial Built-Up: Memoryscapes and Aesthetic Agency,” from “Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore.”

 

“The Infrastructural Ocean: Decentralized Corporate and National Sovereignties,” from “Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore.”

“The Decentering Machine,” from “Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore.”

Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore
Organized by Or Gallery, Emily Carr University, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt

Spread over three days and two sites, this series of interdisciplinary talks brought together scholars, artists, poets, and legal and conservation experts to speculate on sea-level rise as an opportunity to destabilize colonial-era infrastructures that once seemed immovable and advance other epistemologies and ontologies. How might a watery submergence allow for the possibility of expanding outside of the present time, of thinking of land lost to the ocean as something other than a catastrophe? How might our rapidly shifting shorelines reveal and restore the presences and relations lost, or almost lost, to colonial forms of dispossession?

The first day of “Unmoored, Adrift, Ashore” was spent on the Indigenous xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) reserve, where speakers were hosted by Alec Dan, who introduced us to the nation’s history, as well as contemporary cultural and community initiatives related to land and water stewardship, the resurgence of ancestral customs, and the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language.

Organizers Denise Ryner (Or Gallery), Jordan Wilson (New York University), Anselm Franke (Haus der Kulturen der Welt), and Jamie Hilder (Emily Carr University) then convened participants on the campus of Emily Carr University, located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, also known as Vancouver, Canada. Should the predictive models be accurate, the university is forecasted to be one of the many low-lying coastal sites to be submerged by the Pacific Ocean in eighty years’ time.

Throughout two days of panels, local respondents Renisa Mawani (University of British Columbia), Rita Wong (Emily Carr University), Ayasha Guerin (University of British Columbia) and Geoff Mann (Simon Fraser University) reflected on the presentations from within their respective research, artistic, and academic disciplines.

Featuring Marianne Nicolson, Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, and Morgan Guerin on settler-colonialism; Alice Te Punga Somerville, Karamia Müller, and Quito Swan on survivance; Ayesha Hameed, Thea Quiray Tagle, and Laiwan on the role of visual and community arts in transnational and transtemporal ocean routes; Charmaine Chua and Lilian Yamamoto on economic and political histories; Georgina Hill, Jane Jin Kaisen, and Tan Yue on the material and ceremonial capacities of humans’ relationship to water; and a keynote conversation with M. NourbeSe Philip and Katherine McKittrick.

Classroom is a series of video programs curated by art schools, educators, artists, and writers. Each program assembles films, interviews, lectures, panel discussions, and documentaries from a variety of sources to engage with themes relevant to contemporary art and cultural production.

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