Landmarks are meeting places. They can be features of the landscape—a tree, a mountain, a waterway, a boulder—or part of the built environment. The land is marked by time, by the elements, by the habits of animals and peoples. Landmarks define boundaries and echo multiple histories, stories and beliefs. They give shape to our collective memories. A landmark is a turning point for change and a legacy for future generations. Landmarks help us find our way. To mark is to act.
LandMarks2017 is a network of collaborative, contemporary art projects across Canada’s national parks on the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. This anniversary marks an occasion to reflect on a land much older than 150 years, and to address the legacies of colonialism, the complex relationship between nationhood and cultural identity, as well as our relationship to nature in the face of present-day environmental and climatic crises. Using art as a catalyst for discourse and social change, LandMarks2017 looks forward, and provides an opportunity to imagine, to speculate, and to invent our futures through the eyes of artists, art students, communities, and through the spirit of the land. We acknowledge our unique situation globally—an incredibly culturally diverse population spread over an immense landmass, with over 200 languages spoken across nearly 10 million square kilometers.
LandMarks2017 speaks from multiple positions, using difference, rather than unified national identity, as a starting point and recognizes Indigenous Nations and relationships to land as foundational. Our shared stories are, at their heart, about land, belonging, languages, and cultures that stem from our interconnectedness with the earth.
LandMarks2017 creates a forum for collaboration, knowledge-sharing, negotiation of differing perspectives, Indigenous epistemologies, and the creation of new frameworks of understanding through a coordinated art curriculum in universities across the country. At the hub of LandMarks2017 is an interactive digital platform for the circulation of ideas, activated by artists and art students, to form a web of discourses addressing concepts of place, environment, and the construction of identities. LandMarks2017 engages people and activates communities, situating contemporary art practice outside of gallery walls, in natural sites and through digital networks.
Meet the Curators
David Diviney, Ariella Pahlke, and Melinda Spooner (a.k.a. ACT)
David Diviney, Ariella Pahlke, and Melinda Spooner (a.k.a. ACT) are a curatorial team of arts professionals from Atlantic Canada.
David Diviney is presently the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax. Ariella Pahlke is an independent documentary and media artist, curator, and educator. Melinda Spooner is a socially-engaged artist-researcher and instructor at NSCAD University. As a curatorial team for LandMarks 2017/Repères 2017, they are interested in a holistic approach to the exploration of local histories, natural habitats, and cultural heritage. They aim to connect people to a sense of place and ecology through a participatory framework centered on ideas of sustainability and community building.
Véronique Leblanc is a Montreal-based independent curator, writer and lecturer at Université du Québec à Montréal.
She is interested in context, process and relational-based practices as well as connections between art, ethics and politics. Her recent curatorial projects include: Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Putting Life to Work (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal, 2016), Polyphonies (Optica, Montreal, 2015), and faire avec (AdMare, Magdelen Islands, 2013). She holds an MA in Art History from the Université du Québec à Montréal and was awarded the 2015 Prix John R. Porter from the Fondation du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, as well as the Canadian Art Writing Prize in 2011.
Natalia Lebedinskaia is the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon, MB.
Since joining the gallery in 2011, she has produced projects and exhibitions by David McMillan, Greg Staats, Kevin Conlin, Jillian McDonald, and Peter Morin, among many others. She holds an MA in Art History and a BFA in Art History & Studio Art from Concordia University, and has previously held internships at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her research focuses on negotiations of personal and collective memory within the public sphere, and her curatorial approach aims to build communities — both ephemeral and lasting — through exhibitions and programming.
Kathleen Ritter is an artist and writer based in Vancouver and Paris.
She was an artist in residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, in 2013. Her art practice broadly explores questions of visibility, especially in relation to systems of power, language and technology. Ritter was the Associate Curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery until 2012, where she organized the exhibitions Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (with Tania Willard); How Soon Is Now; and Rebecca Belmore: Rising to the Occasion (with Daina Augaitis). Ritter has lectured and published on the work of artists nationally and internationally, with texts appearing in numerous catalogues and journals, including ESSE, Open Letter, C Magazine, Prefix Photo, and Fillip.
Tania Willard, Secwepemc Nation, works within the shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional, often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Aboriginal and other cultures.
Willard has been a curator in residence with grunt gallery and Kamloops Art Gallery. Willard’s curatorial work includes the national touring exhibition Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture, co-curated with Kathleen Ritter at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 2016 Willard received the Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art from the Hanatyshyn Foundation. Willard’s selected recent curatorial work includes; Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Nanitch: Historical BC photography and BUSH gallery as well as the upcoming LandMarks 2017/Repères 2017.
Curated Project: Bellevue House: Many Voices