Issues of settler colonialism in Canada are prominent in public discourse in the wake of the 2015 findings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These histories, rooted in legacies of cultural genocide and trauma, disrupt national mythologies of the Canadian state as benevolent and inclusive. Grappling with this moment of reconciliation-and the resistance and resentment entangled in this process-we suggest contemporary artists are leading the way in critically examining these dynamics. In this article we investigate decolonialism as an aesthetic strategy. Focusing on how decolonial aesthetics engages with the discourse of Canadian heritage, we examine the work of contemporary artists Leah Decter, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen, and Caroline Monnet. These artists, all working with archives, communities, and histories located geographically or conceptually at the peripheries of Canada, employ diverse media to engage with heritage objects, concepts, and events, to question settler colonialism in the public realm. Through our analysis of their work, we argue for the ways in which their projects unsettle dominant national histories. We contend that Decter's, Hoàng Nguyen's, and Monnet's decolonial aesthetics mobilize heritage to unpack the complexities of the Canadian state.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Canadian heritage, Caroline Monnet, Cheryl L'Hirondelle, Contemporary art, Critical multiculturalism, Decolonial aesthetics, Expo 67, Heritage, Indigenous art, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyen, Leah Decter, Settler colonialism
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.3138/jcs.2017-0053.r2
Journal Journal of Canadian Studies
Citation
Smith, S.E.K, & Taunton, C. (Carla). (2018). Unsettling Canadian heritage: Decolonial aesthetics in Canadian video and performance art. Journal of Canadian Studies (Vol. 52, pp. 306–341). doi:10.3138/jcs.2017-0053.r2