Charlotte Townsend-Gault presented at the Indigenous Arts in Transition Seminar on Wednesday, April 17, at 6 pm. Her talk was entitled “Failed Social Relations and the Volatility of Cultural Techniques in British Columbia.”

Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw and Haida coppers were broken in front of Canada’s parliament in 2016. A mended canoe is prominently displayed in the Museum of Anthropology. Both the break and the mend, in different registers, restore and redirect the long local histories of specific cultural techniques. They evade the misleading allure of “art” in order to define the status of Indigenous people in contemporary British Columbia and mark their fraught political engagement with colonial institutions and the state.

Charlotte Townsend-Gault, PhD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, University of British Columbia, and Honorary Professor in Anthropology at University College London. She has published widely on Indigenous arts in Canada and the contemporary social relations of their reception, most recently “Vision Control”, for Teachings: Theories and Methods in Indigenous Art, edited by Heather Igloliorte and Carla Taunton. She has curated exhibitions of the work of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun Born to Live and Die on Your Colonialist Reservations, Rebecca Belmore The Named and the Un-named, and Backstory, the first public exhibition of thliitsapilthim (Nuu-chah-nulth ceremonial screens) for UBC’s Belkin Art Gallery. Northwest Coast Native Art: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, co-edited with Jennifer Kramer and Ki-ke-in, was awarded the 2015 Canada Prize in the Humanities.