Speaker Series

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents a wide range of public talks, lectures and speaker series by artists, curators, art historians, critics and collectors as springboards for understanding and appreciating the world of art and visual culture, for exchanging ideas and for debating issues, often relating to our current exhibitions. These events take many forms, ranging from traditional slide presentations to informal artists' talks in the galleries. They bring renowned scholars, critics and artists to Vancouver, setting local art and artists in an international framework and drawing together some of the brightest minds of our time.


For more information about upcoming programming, please visit the Calendar of Events page.

Gifts of Fringe header

The Gifts of Fringe

Presented in dialogue with Dana Claxton: Fringing the Cube, The Gifts of Fringe Speaker Series further investigates key themes in the exhibition, including notions of Indigenous identity, beauty, gender and the body.

The title of this program series is a reference to the catalogue essay "Gifts of Fringe" by Monika Kin Gagnon and Olivia Michiko Gagnon. In it, they write: "Fringe as connective tissue. Fringe as an Indigenous 'made-to-be-ready': an item made for use but one which is also imbued with spiritual and aesthetic energies. An attunement to the 'everyday aura of aesthetic forms.'"

Presented in partnership with Cineworks Independent Filmmaker Society, grunt gallery, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and SFU Galleries.


OCT 28
Room 4East, in the Gallery
Panel Conversation:
Monika Kin Gagnon, Jaleh Mansoor and Grant Arnold

The Gifts of Fringe: Speaker Series

Join panelists Grant Arnold (Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery), Monika Kin Gagnon (author and Professor of Communication Studies at Concordia University), and Jaleh Mansoor (Associate Professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia) as they offer personal accounts of Dana Claxton’s practice as an artist, mentor, teacher and instigator.

GRANT ARNOLD is currently Audain Curator of British Columbia Art at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where he contributes to the Gallery’s exhibition and collecting activities. Over the past twenty years he has organized more than thirty-five exhibitions of historical, modern, and contemporary art. Arnold has contributed more than two-dozen essays and articles to exhibition catalogues and journals. He teaches in the Critical and Curatorial Studies program at the University of British Columbia and has lectured on historical and contemporary art at a variety of conferences and institutions.

MONIKA KIN GAGNON is Professor of Communication Studies and a Research Fellow at Concordia University. She has published on cultural politics, the visual and media arts since the 1980s, including Other Conundrums: Race, Culture and Canadian Art (2000), 13 Conversations about Art and Cultural Race Politics (2002) with Richard Fung, and co-editor of Reimagining Cinema: Film at Expo 67 with Janine Marchessault (2014), with whom she is co-director of CINEMAexpo67. Her current research is on cultural memory, creative archiving, and experimental media arts, and has included curating and creative alternatives to conventional archiving of experimental media. She is currently working on a book entitled Posthumous Cinema: Unfinished Films in the Archives.

JALEH MANSOOR'S current project traces the historical and structural entwinement of aesthetic and real (or concrete) abstraction, the latter understood as the extraction of labor power valorized by exchange on the market. An associate professor of Art History at UBC, Mansoor’s areas of teaching and research include modernism and the avant-gardes, European art since 1945, formalism, Marxist feminism and social reproduction theory. Mansoor’s first monographic book, Marshall Plan Modernism: Italian Postwar Abstraction and the Beginnings of Autonomia was published by Duke University Press in September 2016. She has been a frequent contributor to October and Texte Zur Kunst, writes reviews for Artforum and is the recipient of a three year SSHRC Insight grant with her collaborator Lakota Sioux artist Dana Claxton.

Free for Members or with Gallery Admission.

The Cinematheque, 1131 Howe Street
Vancouver BC
Directions »
He Who Dreams

The Gifts of the Fringe: Speaker Series

Dana Claxton’s experimental video He Who Dreams (2013) depicts a surreal journey into one man’s conflicted psyche while exploring the narrative of identity and politics of being a so-called Indian. Rich in meaning and metaphor, her work addresses the trauma wrought by the imposition of Western values, customs and systems upon the First Nations of North America and the resurgence of an Indigenous cultural presence. More details to come about additional films to be added to this afternoon screening.

To complement Dana Claxton's feature-length film and to build upon ideas of embodied knowledge, catastrophic loss, dreams, time travel and cultural reconstruction, we are pleased to include the following short films. A talk-back with the artists will follow.

Dana Claxton, He Who Dreams (2013 | 52 minutes)

Yasmin Pyarali Karim, Zarra: a film about the particle of Soul (35mm | colour | 4 minutes)

Karilynn Ming Ho, For the Left Hand Alone (2017 | 9 minutes)

Elizabeth Price, User Group Disco (2009 | 15 minutes)

Free and open to the public.

JAN 12
Room 4East, in the Gallery
Panel Conversation:
Dana Claxton, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Skeena Reece, Olivia Michiko Gagnon and Glenn Alteen

The Gifts of Fringe: Speaker Series

Join us for a conversation with artists Dana Claxton, Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Skeena Reece that will consider unfolding urgencies in contemporary performance art practices. The event will be moderated by Olivia Michiko Gagnon, Managing Editor of Women & Performance, and Glenn Alteen, Program Director at grunt gallery.

Free for Members or with Gallery Admission. Registration is recommended.


DANA CLAXTON is a Hunkpapa Lakota filmmaker, photographer, and performance artist. Her work looks at stereotypes, historical context, and gender studies of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, specifically those of the First Nations. Claxton works in film, video, photography, single- and multi-channel video installation, and performance art. Her practice investigates beauty, the body, the socio-political, and the spiritual.

NAUFUS RAMÍREZ-FIGUEROA lives and works in Berlin and Guatemala City. He was born in Guatemala City in 1978 and immigrated to Vancouver in the early 1980s. In 2006 he received a BFA in Media Arts from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and, in 2008, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was also a postgraduate researcher at Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 2013. He has had recent solo exhibitions at CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux; DAAD Galerie, Berlin (2017); and Gasworks, London (2015). Group exhibitions include São Paulo Biennial, Venice Biennale; LACMA, Los Angeles (2017); Lyon Biennial; and EFA Project Space, New York (2015). He has participated in performance series at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2017); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2016); and Tate Modern, London (2015).

JENEEN FREI NJOOTLI is a Vuntut Gwitchin artist who has performed and exhibited her work internationally, from galleries to rooftops, casinos, runways and the bush. She works across numerous media and modes, including performance, sound, installation, fashion, and with community, and is a co-creator of the ReMatriate Collective. Frei Njootli holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2012) and an MFA from the University of British Columbia (2017). In 2016 she was one of three recipients of the William & Meredith Saunderson Prize for Emerging Canadian Artists from the Hnatyshyn Foundation. She was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2017 and in 2018, she was shortlisted for the same. Jeneen Frei Njootli is currently a grateful, uninvited guest on unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Skwxwu7mesh territories.

OLIVIA MICHIKO GAGNON is a Ph.D. candidate in Performance Studies at New York University, where her research explores how the archive is taken up in contemporary feminist, queer, and decolonial art and performance in ways that enact modes of feeling historical and historical feeling predicated upon entanglement. She is Managing Editor of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory and Managing Editor of HemiPress at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Her writing has appeared or will appear in Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, Canadian Theatre Review, and emisférica.

SKEENA REECE is a Tsimshian/Gitksan and Cree artist based on the West Coast of British Columbia. She has garnered national and international attention most notably for Raven: On the Colonial Fleet (2010) her bold installation and performance work presented as part of the celebrated group exhibition Beat Nation. Her multidisciplinary practice includes performance art, spoken word, humor, "sacred clowning," writing, singing, song writing, video and visual art. She studied media arts at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and was the recipient of the British Columbia award for Excellence in the Arts (2012) and The Viva Award (2014). For her work on Savage (2010)in collaboration with Lisa Jackson, Reece won a Genie Award for Best Short Film, Golden Sheaf Award for Best Multicultural Film, ReelWorld Outstanding Canadian Short Film, Leo Awards for Best Actress and Best Editing. She participated in the 17th Sydney Biennale, Australia.

GLENN ALTEEN is a writer, curator and Program Director of grunt gallery, who, for over 30 years has played a central role within the British Columbia and Canadian arts communities. He has worked extensively in performance art and is co-founder of the LIVE Performance Art Biennale. As Director of grunt gallery in Vancouver, Alteen has been active in creating sustainable administration practices through the purchase of a facility, the Blue Cabin Residency Program and the creation of the grunt gallery Legacy Fund, an endowment held by the Vancouver Foundation. In recent years, Alteen has been involved in archival projects as a producer of websites and has been organizer for a number of conferences including Indian Acts Aboriginal Performance Art, InFest and Live In Public - The Art of Engagement at ECUAD. His writing on Performance Art was published in Unceded Territories: Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun (MOA), Making Always War (Stride Gallery), Access All Area (grunt), Rebecca Belmore (Sydney Biennial Catalogue), Caught in the Act (YYZ Books), La Dragu (FADO Toronto), LIVE at the End of the Century (grunt) and Locus Solus (Black Dog). Alteen received the Governor General's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual and Media Art in 2018.

JAN 22
Room 4East, in the Gallery
Philip J. Deloria

The Gifts of the Fringe: Speaker Series

Hunkpapa Lakota artist Dana Claxton claims the term “Sioux” for Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples as part of her careful analysis of contemporary Sioux relationships to the land. Join Dr. Philip J. Deloria, Professor of History at Harvard University, for a keynote address on the comparative and connective histories of Indigenous peoples in a global context.

In this lecture, Deloria will discuss the "fringe" art of Mary Sully, a Dakota Sioux artist from the 1930s, whose unique portfolio of work is largely unknown and unexplored in relation to the aesthetic currents of American, European and Indigenous modernisms. Deloria will offer a close reading of Sully's work through the lenses of modernism, Dakota women's aesthetics and the American Indian politics of the 1930s. An open discussion, facilitated by Karrmen Crey, will follow.

Tickets: Members $12 | Non-members: $15 | Students and Seniors: $10 (incl. tax)


DR. PHILIP J. DELORIA is Professor of Native American and Indigenous History at Harvard University. He is also of Dakota Sioux heritage. His research focuses on the social, cultural, and political histories of the relations between American Indian people and the United States. His prizewinning 1998 book Playing Indian traced “Indian play” from the Boston Tea Party to the New Age movement, while his 2004 book Indians in Unexpected Places examined the ideologies surrounding Indian people in the early twentieth century and the ways Native people challenges them through sports, travel, automobility, and film and musical performance. Deloria is a former president of the American Studies Association, a trustee of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

KARRMEN CREY is Sto:lo and a member of the Cheam Band. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, where her research examines the rise of Indigenous media in Canada, and the institutions of media culture that Indigenous media practitioners have historically engaged and navigated to produce their work.