Shuvinai AshoonaComposition (Octopus Transformation), installation view, 2021.
Photo : Mikinaak Migwans
Hart House Commons, Toronto
September 8, 2021 — August 31, 2022
Construction work associated with a transformative revitalization of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus is the backdrop for Tree Protection Zone, a year-long occupation of the green space south of historic Hart House. The ambitious public art project asserts Indigenous presence through the tactics of street art. Inspired by tree-protection hoardings installed in preparation for the forthcoming Indigenous Landscape Project, co-curators Mik Migwans and Maria Hupfield invited an impressive roster of contemporary Indigenous artists, aided by a team of student assistants, to engage with the politics of land and water protection unintentionally conjured by the hoardings.

The banner images by Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), renowned for their visibility at Standing Rock, are direct engagements with this activist imaginary. Belcourt’s Mother Earth Revolution is a stirring declaration of global Indigenous solidarity. Meanwhile, Murdoch’s iconic Thunderbird Woman and Ojibway Said So proclaim the sacredness of water and soil. Murdoch attributes his visionary iconography to more-than-human inspiration. Freely downloadable from the collective’s website for use in land- and water-protection actions, these powerful banners embody an alternative economy of the image untethered by settler constructions of authorship, commodification, and visuality.

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This article also appears in the issue 104 - Collectives

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