Gentrification is Colonialism: Anti-Institutions and Indigenous Liberation
November 5, 2022
Forge Project, a new Native-led arts and decolonial education initiative based in Ancram, is hosting a three-part series of dialogues and intimate conversation sessions, “Gentrification is Colonialism,” between local organizers, community members, and Indigenous activists whose work fights against gentrification, the housing crisis, “sick” architecture, and the ways in which artists and cultural spaces are complicit in their construction.
Anti-Institutions and Indigenous Liberation
Moderator: Jamie Sanin, Celebrate 845
Panelists: Tania Willard, 2022 Forge Project Fellow and Bush Gallery co-founder
Audra Simpson, Anthropologist, Columbia University
The first panel in this series, hosted at Forge Project, looks to Indigenous models of refusal, resistance, and organizing both on-reserve and in urban centers as a means to critically examine the relationships between art and gentrification and gentrification and colonialism.
BUSH Gallery, for example, "is a space for dialogue, experimental practice, and community-engaged work that contributes to an understanding of how gallery systems and art mediums might be transfigured, translated and transformed by Indigenous knowledges, traditions, aesthetics, performance, and land-use systems."
Audra Simpson, in her book Mohawk Interruptus, posits a politics of refusal, which stands in contrast to politics of cultural recognition. For her this offers a reordering of sovereign political order. Forge Project hopes to be a conduit for conversations around historical displacement and hold itself accountable for the ways in which its presence in the Mahhicannituck (Hudson River) Valley affects the current rise in economic and physical displacement while fostering a cultural “re-placement” of indigenous people to our region.
About the Series
The series expands from the central tenet that gentrification is colonialism, and that one of the ways we can understand how gentrification operates as well as means to counter its effects is by tracing its historical roots in the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people, particularly in the Mahhicannituck (Hudson River) Valley.
Each panel will be moderated by a local artist or organizer, and feature local activists known for their work on the topic in dialogue with an Indigenous activist, architect, artist, or scholar in Forge Project’s community who is taking a new approach to this age-old colonial issue. The public panel will be followed by a debriefing conversation among panelists and community members, where participants can ask more specific questions and discuss the issues raised during these conversations in greater depth.
The entire series is free and open to the public; registration is appreciated. Light refreshments will follow each panel and lunch will be served during the debriefing conversations.
About Jamie Sanin
Jamie Sanin (she/they) is an artist, educator, and organizer living and raised in this region. She holds a B.S. in Visual Arts Education and her interest in teaching sprouted from her own experience with the arts; in addition to visual art, Jamie also studied dance, music, and theatre from a young age. Each experience provided them not only with a breadth of cultural knowledge but also the opportunity to consider the importance of community care via accessible arts, for which they are an advocate. Jamie's personal, professional, and creative work is centered around liberation, collaboration, and joy.
About Tania Willard
Tania Willard (Secwepemc Nation and settler heritage) works within the shifting ideas around contemporary and traditional as it relates to Indigenous art, often working with bodies of knowledge and skills that are conceptually linked to her interest in intersections between Indigenous and other cultures. Willard has worked as an artist in residence with Gallery Gachet in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the Banff Centre's visual arts residencies, fiction and Trading Post, and as a curator in residence with grunt gallery and Kamloops Art Gallery. Willard’s curatorial work includes Beat Nation: Art Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture (2012-2014), co-curated with Kathleen Ritter, Vancouver Art Gallery (and national tour), featuring 27 contemporary Indigenous artists. Most recently she was one of a team of co-curators for Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, NM (2021). In 2016 Willard received the Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art from the Hanatyshyn Foundation as well as a City of Vancouver Book Award for the catalogue for the exhibition, Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Willard's ongoing collaborative project BUSH gallery, is a conceptual land-based gallery grounded in Indigenous knowledges and relational art practices. Willard is an Assistant Professor at University of British Columbia Okanagan in Syilx territories (Kelowna, BC).
About Audra Simpson
Audra Simpson is Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University. She researches and writes about Indigenous and settler society, politics and history. She is the author of Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke University Press, 2014), winner of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association’s Best First Book in Native American and Indigenous Studies Prize, the Laura Romero Prize from the American Studies Association, the Sharon Stephens Prize from the American Ethnological Society (2015) and CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in 2014. She is co-editor of Theorizing Native Studies (Duke University Press, 2014). She has articles in South Atlantic Quarterly, Postcolonial Studies, Theory & Event, Cultural Anthropology, American Quarterly, Junctures, Law and Contemporary Problems, Wicazo Sa Review and Annual Review in Anthropology. She was a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto in 2018, the Nicholson Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Unit for Criticism and Theory at University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 2019 and will be a Distinguished Visiting Professor at University of Chicago’s new Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity in 2023. In 2010 she won Columbia University’s School for General Studies Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2020 she won the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching. She was the second anthropologist in the 50-year history of the award to do so. She is a Kahnawà:ke Mohawk.
About Forge Project
Forge Project is a Native-led initiative centered on Indigenous art, decolonial education, and supporting leaders in culture, food security, and land justice. Located on the unceded homelands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok in New York, Forge Project works to upend political and social systems formed through generations of settler colonialism.
Launched in 2021, Forge Project serves the social and cultural landscape of shared communities through a funded fellowship program for Indigenous culture workers, including those working in food and land justice, law and decolonial governance, and art. Forge hosts Native-led public education and events, a lending art collection focused on contemporary art by Indigenous artists, and a teaching farm and related programs developed in partnership with Sky High Farm.
As COVID-19 continues to be active in our communities, proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks will be required for all who visit Forge Project or Forge Project hosted events. If you are feeling ill or have been recently exposed to either COVID-19 or MPVX, we ask that you stay home.