Per/forming Memoration: Integrative Artistic Strategies for Unsettling From a White Settler Perspective

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Decter, Leah
Decolonization , Settler Colonial Studies , Research-Creation , Social Practice , Critical Race Studies , Intermedia Art , Performance Art/Studies , Public Space Intervention
“Memoration” is an integrative and adaptable artistic methodology that has emerged from my practice as an artist and scholar. I characterize it as an evolving set of theoretical and aesthetic provocations directed at destabilizing white settler dominance as it is entrenched in the landscape of everyday Canadian life. This dissertation traces the formation and enactment of memoration by examining pivotal artworks from a ten year period of my inter-media art practice, and contextualizing them in relation to historical and contemporary facets of Canadian nation-building, and movements of Indigenous and non-Indigenous resistance. In order to construct a coherent story of memoration’s development—one that highlights its salient features—this text includes the artwork I created as part of my PhD research, oh-oh Canada, as well as artworks that were undertaken outside of my doctoral studies, Imprint, (official denial) trade value in progress and memoration #2: constituent parts. Carrying out this retrospective analysis also situates memoration’s development in relation to the changing discourses with which it intersects and positions it as operating in parallel and conversation with projects of Indigenous sovereignty, resurgence and decolonization. The discussions within this dissertation highlight the imperative and potential of the white settler being activated in this manner, while also attending to the challenges and limitations of such endeavours. As a research-creation project comprised of artistic and textual components, this dissertation acts as a vehicle for enacting, scrutinizing, and theorizing strategies through which the white settler artist, and by extension the white settler citizen, might engage in unsettling the settler colonial status quo in ways that exercise responsibility, accountability, and an ethic of being-in-relation.
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