Voices of the Land.

Voices of the Land.

UNCEDED: Voices of the Land invited the global community to understand the traditions and history the lands of Turtle Island conceal, and the inextricable ties to identity, culture and destiny of Indigenous peoples, and indeed of everyone living there today. UNCEDED was an important opportunity for the nations of the world to see the tremendous contribution that Indigenous people can make to the world family. The overall intent was to stimulate dialogue that could lead to a fairer, more inclusive and more innovative society.

Inspired by an Indigenous world-view, UNCEDED: Voices of the Land provided the international community insight into how Indigenous peoples evolved on their land for thousands of years based on their symbiotic relationship with that land, and by following their basic principles.

The exhibition presented the work of 18 Indigenous architects from across Turtle Island, an Indigenous and border-free North America. Their work reflected the values of their cultures, so that they may set a good example in the interest of future generations. Organized around the four themes of sovereignty, resilience, colonization, and Indigeneity, the exhibition reaffirmed the knowledge and experiences of these architects’ communities, cultures and ways of life through the languages of design and architecture.
In turn, the exhibition emphasized that Indigenous people have never ceded—or surrendered— themselves, their children, their future, their language, their culture, nor their land. They remain unceded people on unceded land, as they share their teachings with their brothers and sisters of all nations at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Commissioner: Canada Council for the Arts
Curators: Gerald McMaster, David Fortin
Presenter: Douglas Cardinal Architect
Exhibiting Architects and Designers: Ryan Gorrie; Jake Chakasim; Wanda Dalla Costa; Ouri Scott; Patrick Stewart; Brian Porter; Matthew Hickey; Harriet Burdett-Moulton; Eladia Smoke; Alfred Waugh; Ray Gosselin; David Thomas; Tammy Eagle Bull; Chris Cornelius; Tamarah Begay; and Daniel Glenn

Watapah Team Contributors

Dr. Gerald McMaster

Position: Director, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair
Email: gmcmaster@faculty.ocadu.ca

Dr. McMaster has over 30 years international work and expertise in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics. His experience as an artist and curator in art and ethnology museums researching and collecting art, as well as producing exhibitions has given him a thorough understanding of transnational Indigenous visual culture and curatorial practice. His early interests concerned the ways in which culturally sensitive objects were displayed in ethnology museums, as well as the lack of representation of Indigenous artists in art museums.

As a practicing artist, he offered a way of staging hitherto decontextualized objects different from the traditional formats favoured by exhibition designers trained in Western traditions; instead, his was an approach that rested on Indigenous epistemologies. These early stages in developing an –Indigenous visuality led him to study concepts in visual, experiential and spatial composition. His exhibition Savage Graces (1992) challenged long held views, and played a major role in breaking down conventional barriers around where art should be practiced, while also demonstrating that art is not tied to ethnicity.

As a curator, he focused on advancing the intellectual landscape for Indigenous curatorship through the foundational concept of voice. He curated, for example, an exhibition called Indigena (1992) that brought together unfiltered Indigenous voices for the first time. Until then, non-Indigenous scholars had dominated discussions of Indigenous art, history and culture. McMaster made the point that Indigenous artists and writers were more than capable of representing themselves in articulate, eloquent ways.

Over the past 20 years, he has continued to refine the idea of voice, leading him to ask: How can Indigenous voices continue providing new perspectives on well-researched subjects such as art, history and anthropology? Throughout his career, his championing of the mainstream value of Indigenous art, among other things, has led to his being chosen to represent Canada at a number of prestigious international events. These include his serving as Canadian Commissioner for the 1995 Venice Biennale, and as artistic director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney, and curator for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. 

Dr. Gerald McMaster

Director, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair

Dr. McMaster has over 30 years international work and expertise...

css.php Skip to content
Skip to toolbar