Leah Decter

(official denial) trade value in progress

dialogic project: trade value series
activated in collaboration with Jaimie Isaac

Hudson Bay blankets, waxed thread, thread, yarn, beads

(official denial) trade value in progress was a six-year participatory project I initiated in 2010 and subsequently co-activated with Anishinaabe/British curator/artist Jaimie Isaac from 2011-2016. I conceived of the project in response to Prime Minister Harper’s 2009 statement “we also have no history of colonialism,” which was part of his answer to a question posed at the G20 Summit in the fall of 2009. The project engaged participants across the country in responding to Harper’s statement through two primary interfaces: a set of books and a 12-by-15-foot textile made from reconfigured HBC blankets. Wherever the piece was presented, the public was invited to write their responses to Harper’s statement in a project book. At subsequent Sewing Actions hosted in a variety of locations, each participant selected a response already written in the book and sewed it onto the blanket. They also left a written response in the book for future sewers choose from. When the project began, the blanket composite featured only the machine-stitched version of Harper’s statement at its centre. Over time this was crowded out by several hundred hand-sewn responses that rendered a collaborative trace of participants’ thoughts, labour, and affective engagement. The project had a national scope enlisting more than 500 participants in over 40 events across. See below for list of events.

Sewing Actions and Presenations:

Truth and Reconciliation National Event (Winnipeg and Edmonton),  University of British Columbia Okanogan, Side Space Gallery, West Central Women’s Resource Centre, Saint John’s-Ravenscourt School, Winnipeg, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops Art Gallery, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, hosted by the Centre for Women Studies in Education and Centre for Media and Culture in Education, McMaster University, hosted by Indigenous Studies and Gender Studies and Feminist Research, Toronto Free Gallery, Kwantlan Polytechnic University hosted by the Fine Art Department and the Aboriginal Gathering Place, Surrey, Langara College, Simon Fraser University, Emily Carr University of Art and Design , Queens University, Cultural Studies Speaks Seminar Series, University of Manitoba, Women’s and Gender Studies, School of Art Gallery, Faculty of Nursing, Manitoba Crafts Council, Manitoba Craft Museum and Library, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba hosted by the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, The Manitoba Craft Council and Brandon University , ReWorks in Progress, Shingwauk Residential School Research Center, 180 Projects, Missanabie Cree Circle of Creative Arts hosted by Missanabie Cree First Nation/Circle of Creative Arts, Reconsidering Reconciliation Residency, Thompson Rivers University, First Nations University, McKenzie Art Gallery, BC Teachers Federation, Deconstructing Myths, Fostering Reconciliation Through Understanding Conference, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, Anna Leonowens Gallery, University of Montreal, University of British Columbia Okanogan Indigenous Activist Art Intensive, Kelowna, Campbell River Art Gallery, Art Centre at Cedar Hill, Victoria Arts Council, Comox Valley Art Gallery, Port Alberni Friendship Center, Port Alberni, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Association, Emily Carr University, Neechi Commons, Diagonale Gallery, Montreal, Objects of Affection Conference, Princeton University

link to: Review by Nahed Mansour. Fuse Magazine, Dec 2011
link to: Reflections of Unsettling Narratives. Leah Decter and Jaimie Isaac

Funded by: Manitoba Arts Council, WInnipeg Arts Council, Shingwauk Residential School Centre and through the support of many of the Sewing Actions hosts.

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