Charlotte Townsend-Gault – Art Claims in the Age of Delgamuukw: What Aboriginal Art is Doing Today in BC

Principal’s Series: Thinking at the Edge of Reason: Interdisciplinarity in Action
Charlotte Townsend-Gault, Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory
Coach House, Green College, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road, UBC
5-6:30 pm, Tuesday, December 1, 2009, with reception to follow

For more than two and a half centuries many claims have been made about the iconography, the style, and the purposes of Indigenous art on the north west coast of North America, of which the claim that it is ‘art’ is only one. The historical diversity of these claims is a subject in itself, but since Delgamuukw, since 1997, diversity is not the right word, and the claims are subject to a more stringent validation. Now they are rights-based, culturally specific, essentialist. Over the last decade, work (the right word is elusive) – carved, woven, painted, printed, assembled or engraved, before and since 1997 – has been re-framed, re-directed, and most significantly, re-validated. If ‘Northwest coast art’ as a viable generic term is increasingly disputed, the claims made for the potency of the cultural expressions of the region’s First Nations have never been stronger.

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