5) The Body Territory and the Territory as Body: Communitarian Feminism and Indigenous Sovereignty

Julieta Paredes Carvajal, Skawennati, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Dylan Miner, Rodrigo Hernández Gómez, Dot Tuer

Description/ Rationale of Issues to be Addressed
The goal of this work group is to explore ideas and expressions of the sovereignty of the body and territorial integrity of indigenous peoples of the Americas in order to question colonial racist patricarchal centricity and assert eccentric community propositions. The focus is on the sovereignty of indigenous bodies and territories because political dissidence is not enough. This focus also builds on exchange and dialogue around indigenous sovereignty and aesthetics that began at the Montreal Encuentro. As a group, we will collectively work towards decolonizing the imaginary around bodies, knowledge, knowing, pleasure, aesthetics, as well as to exercise the possibility to dream. We will explore ex-centric processes of depatriarchalization and decolonization in relation to women's bodies, pleasure, and sexuality. We will explore the interconnection of depatriarcalized and decolonized bodies and territories through different visual and performative media. The work group will conclude with a performance of bodies and territories in which all participants can take part.

Description/Rationale of Work Group Format
We will begin with a brief presentation of each participant's work and undertake discussions to reach a consensus on how to collectively envision and contribute to the theme of the work group. Through this disussion we will address the challenge of how and by what means we can depatriarchalize and decolonize our bodies, our territories, and life practices. The ideas that emerge from this dialogue and exchange will give shape to and culminate in the creation of a work group performance. You may participate in any capacity in the performance but must be willing to attend every session and be committed to working collectively.

Application Materials
In 200 words please tell us who you are, where you are coming from, and your interest in joining the work group. Briefly describe your artistic, activist, and/or research work, as well as any relationships to communities, social movements or organizations. Provide a sample of your work (this can be a short written text, video clip, or visual images).

Ideal Number of Participants
The group ideally will have approximately 15 people, but will be open to accepting more if they are willing to participate in and commit to attending most sessions.

Languages Spoken/Understood by Conveners
Aymara, Castellano, English, French (advanced), Italian (intermediate). We highly encourage you to work with other work group members to maximize the languages spoken.

Convener Biographies
Julieta Paredes Carvajal was born in La Paz, Bolivia, 50 years ago. She is an urban Aymara woman, daughter of Cruz, granddaughter of Natividad, sister of Enriqueta, aunt of Danielita and Juan Pablo, and co-mother of Julia and Diana. She is a poet, singer-songwriter, author, and graffiti-artist; she has fought against dictatorship since her days as a leftist university student; and for the past 23 years, she has also been a feminist. She was co-founder of the emblematic Bolivian collective Mujeres Creando [Women Creating] and after parting ways with the group, she is now a part of Mujeres Creando Comunidad [Women Creating Community], a collective with a communitarian structure. Together with her comrades in the Asamblea de Feminismo Comunitario [Assembly of Communitarian Feminism], and in the context of Bolivia’s revolutionary transformation, they created a current of thought and action called Communitarian Feminism, which currently brings together, on the basis of their own experience, other women throughout the continent.

Skawennati makes art that addresses history, the future, and change. Her pioneering new media projects have been widely presented across Turtle Island in major exhibitions such as Now? NOW! at Denver’s Biennial of the Americas; Looking Forward (L’Avenir) at the Montreal Biennale; and Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 3. She has been honored to win imagineNative’s 2009 Best New Media Award as well as a 2011 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship. Her work is included in the collections of the Canada Art Bank, Edd J. Guarino, and the Aboriginal Art Centre at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, among others. Born in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, Skawennati graduated with a BFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she is based. She is co-director, with Jason E. Lewis, of Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC)– a research network of artists, academics and technologists investigating, interrogating, and critiquing Indigenous virtual environments. In 2015 they launched the Initiative for Indigenous Futures (IIF).

Jeneen Frei Njootli is a multidisciplinary artist and academic, and a member of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation currently based in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish territory. She is working towards her Masters of Fine Arts Degree at The University of British Columbia with a focus on decolonial aesthetics. Frei Njootli’s practice explores the constructs of home spaces/places/non-places on one’s psyche as well as present-day ideas of tradition, and performativity of race and gender while questioning the continual construction of culture. Frei Njootli graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University in 2012. Following graduation, she began a Visual Arts Studio Work Study program at The Banff Centre and went on to participate in two thematic residencies there. Her works are in the permanent collections of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Art Collection and The Yukon Permanent Art Collection and the Artist Book Collection at the Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives, The Banff Centre.

Dylan Miner is a Wiisaakodewinini (Métis) artist, activist, and scholar who splits his time between Anishinaabewaki and Aztlán. He is Associate Professor at Michigan State University, where he coordinates a new Indigenous contemporary art initiative and is adjunct curator of Indigenous Art at the MSU Museum. He is a founding member of the artists collective Justseeds. He holds a PhD from The University of New Mexico and has published more than fifty journal articles, book chapters, critical essays and encyclopedia entries. In 2010, he was awarded an Artist Leadership Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution). Since 2010, he has been featured in more than fourteen solo exhibitions and been artist-in-residence at institutions such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, École supérieure des beaux-arts in Nantes, Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Rabbit Island, Santa Fe Art Institute, and numerous universities and art schools. His book Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding Across Turtle Island was published in 2014 by the University of Arizona Press. He has solo exhibitions scheduled in Montreal, Vancouver, and Winnipeg; Anishinaabensag Biimskowbeshkigewag (Native Kids Ride Bikes) is at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis through January 2015.

Rodrigo Hernández Gómez is a transdisciplinary artist/activist born in the valley of Anahuac, Tenochtitlán/Mexico City, of Nahua family: great-grandson of Rosa González, grandson of Irene Ronquillo, son of Laura and Manuel, migrated north in 1996, was deported in 2004, and currently lives in unceded Coast Sailish Territory/Vancouver. Rodrigo holds an MFA from York University and his work includes visual and performative epistemic resistance and resurgence, while stealthily and carefully grounding a decolonial approach at the local level. His formation as an artist has been marked by his involvement with La Lleca Collective (Mexico City), e-fagia organization (Toronto), and AKA Collective (Vancouver).  Most recently, he has been working with cultural organizations and peoples of many Diasporas to critique multiculturalism from an urban indigenous, migrant perspective. Rodrigo was a co-organizer of the Decolonial Aesthetics Symposium, that took place in Toronto in 2013.  His visual work has been exhibited internationally, including a contribution to the Hemispheric Encuentro in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2013 with No Media Collective.  Rodrigo’s new initiatives include acquiring skills in 3D modeling and 3D printing to be applied in future community-building activism.

Dot Tuer is a writer, curator, and cultural historian based in Toronto, Canada, and Corrientes, Argentina. Her work focuses on Canadian and Latin American art from a decolonial perspective, with a specific interest in performance, photography, and new media. She also researches and writes on colonial Latin American history and Indigenous-European relations. Tuer is the author of Mining the Media Archive (2006) and numerous museum catalogue, book anthology, and journal essays. Her most recent curatorial project was a major retrospective exhibition of the art and politics of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera– "Frida and Diego: Passion, Politics, and Painting" (2012-13)– held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012-13. Tuer holds a PhD in history from the University of Toronto and has received numerous awards for her writings, including the Distinguished Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity Award (2013) from OCAD University, where she is a professor of Visual and Critical Studies. Tuer's present writing and collaborative creative projects address the relationship of social memory and witnessing to political agency and decolonization. She is also working with Guarani indigenous communities in the Ibera wetlands of Corrientes, Argentina, to document processes of indigenous sovereignty and cultural affirmation.