press release

Duane Linklater: mymothersside

September 18, 2021 – January 16, 2022

Duane Linklater works across a range of mediums to address the contradictions of contemporary Indigenous life within and beyond settler systems of knowledge, representation, and value. This survey exhibition brings together sculptures, video works, and digital prints on linen from the last decade of the artist’s practice, as well as new adaptations of key installations and site-responsive pieces created for the occasion. Staged as a series of juxtapositions that evolve through small modifications, the presentation embodies the indeterminacy and open-endedness that have been vital aspects of Linklater’s approach.

The exhibition spills out into the courtyard and the Frye’s iconic rotunda entryway, breaching the boundaries of the galleries and culminating in an architectural intervention that literally tears the walls down. These gestures serve to open the historically exclusionary construct of the museum to Indigenous content, including works in sculpture and video that focus on enduring ancestral practices such as hunting, berry gathering, and fur trading; digital translations of tribal objects held in institutional collections; and a series of large-scale structures made with tepee poles. Linklater’s draped and folded “flat sculptures” transform the semicircular canvas covering of the tepee—the traditional Cree dwelling—into a support for digitally printed imagery he tints with natural dyes.

Appearing amidst these culturally entangled forms and materials are references to the artist’s family, childhood home, and favorite bands, films, and garments, which suggest an expansive constellation of identifications that defies reductive notions of identity. This refusal to be pinned down is an assertion of sovereignty and self-determination—a way for Linklater to counter ongoing processes of erasure, extraction, and dispossession that impede Indigenous people’s potential. Through art, he aims to create what he calls “a zone of non-interference,” a space of autonomy and agency, where that potential can manifest.

Duane Linklater (Omaskêko Cree, b. 1976, Treaty 9 territory, Canada) lives and works in North Bay, Ontario. He often uses appropriated imagery, lo-fi methods of reproduction, and commercial materials in his work, challenging dominant Euro-American notions of ownership and authenticity. These concerns and strategies have frequently coalesced in explorations of the physical and ideological structures of the museum, especially as they relate to the display (and marginalization) of Indigenous histories. In 2011, Linklater initiated Wood Land School, a nomadic, collaborative project that centers Indigenous forms and ideas in the institutional spaces the school inhabits.

Linklater earned a BFA in Fine Art and Native Studies from the University of Alberta in 2005 and an MFA in Film and Video from the Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts at Bard College in 2012. He has presented solo exhibitions at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, Lansing (2017); 80 WSE Gallery, New York City, and Mercer Union, Toronto (2016); and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2015). Recently, Linklater’s work has been included in group exhibitions at Artists Space, New York City, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2019); the High Line, New York City (2018); the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2017); and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015), among others. He was the 2016 recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Media Art and the 2013 Sobey Art Award winner.

Duane Linklater: mymothersside is organized by Amanda Donnan, Chief Curator. Generous support is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, ArtsFund, the Frye Foundation, and Frye Members.