From Colonialism to Visual Sovereignty

October 17, 2017 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art
460 Portage Ave #1
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0E8

Sherry Farrell Racette | From Colonialism to Visual Sovereignty

In response to our current exhibition Entering the Landscape, on Tuesday, October 17th at 7pm, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art presents “From Colonialism to Visual Sovereignty: Indigenous Bodies and the Camera” by beloved scholar, artist and educator, Sherry Farrell Racette as part of our Respondent Series.

Considering the extensive representation of Indigenous women employing video or photography in Entering the Landscape, Racette will contextualize the impact of these technologies historically and their contemporary uses. She will speak to the fraught history of visual representation as an early tool of colonization, with particular focus on lens-based media. Recognizing its contemporary use as an apparatus of resistance and reclamation, Racette will trace a trajectory that sees a transition from the camera as a colonial instrument used to fetishize, and sexualize Indigenous peoples, to its empowered use by Indigenous women beginning in the mid-twentieth century. Coming full circle, Racette posits the camera as “now enable[ing] powerful acts of the imaginary to affirm our stories, reclaim our sovereign bodies and assert our enduring relationship to land”.

Sherry Farrell Racette is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist. As a researcher, educator, writer and artist, Racette’s influence on advancing Indigenous art histories in the Canadian context has been profound. She is interested in Indigenous understandings and uses of archival practices, material culture, and photography. In addition to authoring several books, Racette’s essays appear in numerous scholarly publications including, Sources and Methods in Indigenous Studies (2016), The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada (2012), and Manifestations: New Native Art Criticism (2011). As an artist, Racette works in a range of media, with a particular affection for beading. In 2012, she notably collaborated with Urban Shaman Gallery to bring the traveling exhibition Walking with our Sisters, a community arts project honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, to Winnipeg. In 2016-2017, she was the inaugural resident “Distinguished Visiting Indigenous Faculty Fellow” at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto and is currently teaching at the Faculty of Media, Art and Performance at the University of Regina.


This talk is programmed in conjunction with Entering the Landscape (October 1 to December 31, 2017)

Pia Arke • Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory • Jaime Black • Lori Blondeau • A.K. Burns • The Ephemerals • Melissa General • Rebecca Horn • Katherine Hubbard • Maria Hupfield • Simone Jones • Tau Lewis • Amy Malbeuf • Meryl McMaster • Ana Mendieta • Natalie Purschwitz • Dominique Rey • Jamie Ross • Xaviera Simmons • Ming Wong • Alize Zorlutuna

Entering the Landscape is a contemplative group exhibition featuring twenty-one artists from Canada, the USA, Denmark, and Berlin. Working in film and video, photography, sculpture, and performance these artists represent a breadth of politicized contemporary and iconic historical works that place the female or queer body in the landscape. Bringing together artworks that conceptually and aesthetically overlap, this exhibition identifies and considers a persistent motif in contemporary art.

All public programming is free and open to the public. Everyone welcome!