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Leah Decter: Precarity//Futurity//Aesthetics Seminar Series

Founder #3 and Founder #5, Leah Decter, 2015
Image courtesy of the artist.

Leah Decter: Precarity//Futurity//Aesthetics Seminar Series

Event dates

Tuesday, 9 May, 2017

Event times

Tuesday: 5:30-7:30pm

Unsettled Proximities: Re-storying icons of certainty in contemporary colonial Canada
The structures of colonial invasion that typify contemporary settler states are maintained through the enactment of Indigenous dispossession and white dominance within social, political, cultural and economic spheres. Although the specifics may differ from nation to nation, the dominant mythologies, beliefs and relations that substantiate these structures are conditioned by well-honed habits of erasure and strategic forgetting. In other words, a settler state knows what (not) to know. Jodi A. Byrd (Chickasaw) suggests “reconceptualiz(ing) space and history to make visible what… settler colonialisms… have sought to obscure”[1] is a crucial action towards Indigenous decolonization.

Increasingly, non-Indigenous members of settler states are being called upon to confront their differential positions and responsibilities with respect to historical and ongoing settler colonial conditions, and to actively engage in alliance with Indigenizing and decolonizing movements. Decter’s art practice demonstrates some of the complexities of undertaking this work from a white settler perspective in the contemporary Canadian context. In this talk, she will highlight three recent participatory/collaborative artworks which mobilize and intervene in the vexed genealogies of prominent Canadian icons to disturb entrenched mythologies, unsettle settler subjectivities and reveal persistent erasures at work in the colonial imaginary.

Based in Winnipeg, Canada, Treaty 1 territory, Leah Decter is an inter-media artist, curator and writer whose work integrates video, digital media, installation, textiles, performance, critical collaboration and social practice. Her work contends with histories and contemporary conditions of settler colonialism and systems of white dominance in Canada through a “critical white settler” lens. She has exhibited, presented and screened her work widely in Canada and internationally in the US, UK, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands and India. Her recent curatorial projects include Mammo’iiang to Make Change (2015) (with Jaimie Isaac) and oh-oh canada (2016), and her recent writing has been published in the Journal of Critical Race Inquiry (2016), Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies (2016) and The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (2015) (chapters co-authored with Ayumi Goto and Jaimie Isaac respectively). Decter holds an MFA in New Media from Transart Institute (Berlin) and is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies at Queens University (Kingston).  She is currently Junior Visiting Research Fellow, Visual Anthropology & Visual Culture, NIEA, UNSW Art & Design. 



[1] Byrd, Jodi A. The transit of empire: Indigenous critiques of colonialism. U of Minnesota Press, 2011. pxxx).



Elwyn Lynn Conference Centre
UNSW Art & Design, Paddington Campus
Corner of Greens Road & Oxford Street
Paddington NSW 2021


Leah Decter
A/Prof Jennifer Biddle