Waterfront Station South #haunted_hunted
By Tania Willard
For nearly two decades, the 337 kilometer stretch of the Trans Canada Highway between Kamloops and Alberta has witnessed major infrastructural upgrades, driven largely by a demand to move more resources, more efficiently. The twinning process, which expands the highway from two lanes to four, brings simultaneous construction and destruction to the lands of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nation. Major land disputes have arisen as industrial development in the form of highways, hydroelectric dams, and logging continues to encroach on ancestral burial sites and existing communities. In response to this persistent intrusion of space, both sacred a nd lived, Secwepemc artist Tania Willard’s #haunted_hunted series disrupts the unquestioned motives that pave the way for these developments. The two images on display, photographed by Secwepemc artist Aaron Leon, show a figure that has been draped under a sheet of appropriated ‘native’ designs. The first image shows the figure occupying, thus haunting, the landscape. Set against a white backdrop, the second image demonstrates the figure’s haunting presence in a way that resists common museological frameworks for Indigenous art. Willard’s practice addresses ongoing colonial agendas by actively navigating the shifting ideas of contemporary and traditional as they pertain to cultural politics and aesthetics. Positioned within the framework of BUSH Gallery, a conceptual space for land based art and action led by Indigenous artists, the #haunted_hunted figure is at the same time mobile and site-specific. The addition of a hashtag suggests the reach of a digital community, while remaining rooted in a tangible politics of space.