Keynote response: July 12: Ollie Sandberg

2017 summer intensive

A response to Monika Kin Gagnon


I found Monika’s presentation very insightful in regard to the process of rethinking cultural norms, and the perspectives that coincide with these establishments. First off, I was particularly intrigued as I didn’t grow up in Canada I had never heard of Expo 67 before. I was interested with the event itself, especially because over my university career I have gained extensive critical knowledge towards these symbols of nationalism, so this presentation really resonated with the awareness I’ve obtained over the last few years.

At the beginning Monika contextualized the reason for the exhibition, which is being shown now in Montreal, and why she was optimistic about the support surrounding the exhibit. She expressed that Rethinking Expo 67 was inspired by the resistance movements concerning the recent Canada 150 celebrations such as #colonialism150, #unsettle150, which, personally, brought into mind Kelowna’s resistance movement Rethink 150. She explained that these movements complicate the celebrations that go along with these nationalistic events that can help to induce a reevaluation of societal structures. This exhibition is seen as a continuation of this complication.

I found she raised a very important aspect in terms of collaboration in the present day. These movements rely on participation at a macro scale with the tools that are offered by various avenues of social media. Raising awareness for social injustices and hegemonic impositions must be public, not just behind institutionalized doors. It is clear that collaboration manifests in many diverse forms but I think Monika provided a key element to the effectiveness of modern collaborations, which is to create a project that can be accessed by anyone that chooses to use say a hash-tag. When addressing certain issues that affect us at global levels the information must be easily accessible and easy to spread.

Monika also described the process of creative archiving, and how research creation provides a unique epistemological approach to societal perspectives. She provided examples within the exhibit such as using archival footage but spinning the perspective to invert the narratives of colonialism and imperialism which were highly present before. This method of using found material and juxtaposing its original intent to shed light on another experience has always interested me as an artist. I get a sense of temporal collaboration as you’re working with something that has been created within a certain period of time, where you then can raise notions that are intergenerational and even paradoxical. To me, it’s a fairly surreal, and even rebellious, art practice as you’re messing around with someone else’s creation, and showing how strange it seems from a present perspective. Also, it is a very appropriate process of rethinking cultural norms.

I enjoyed Monika’s presentation as it showed that collaboration can work in individual ways too. Collaboration isn’t necessarily strictly working with someone to produce a product, it is working with something to produce an insightful and creative experience, which can come before, during or after the product is made.

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