Insiders/Outsiders: The Cultural Politics and Ethics of Indigenous Representation and Participation in Canada’ s Media Arts —
Working together with Lakota artist and UBC professor Dana Claxton, this research project involves looking at the cultural politics and ethics of Indigenous representation and participation in Canada’s media arts field. In 2017 we sent a Call for Chapter Proposals that elicited a massive response from settler and Indigenous academics and artists from across “Canada.” This research will culminate in a robust, 17-chapter collection of essays and will be published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press, hopefully in 2020.
Settler Frames — During the winter and spring months of 2018 I served as one of Concordia University’s first Curator-In-Residence for their new Visual Collections Repository. My work there contributes to my research project “Settler Frames,” which examines the settler cinemas of Canada, the US and the UK in order to develop a typology of framing and frames deployed in the construction of on-screen settler society and identity over the past century of cinema. I viewed over 100 films for this project using key words to search the VCR repository, and from these viewings, developed my theory of the four on screen settler archetypes: the normative, malevolent, benevolent and liminal settlers.
Buying In to Doing Good: Documentary Politics and Curatorial Ethics at the Hot Docs Film Festival —In December 2013 I completed my PhD at Carleton University, the result of nearly seven years of research into the social spaces, institutional workings, and curatorial practices of Canada’s largest and most important documentary film festival: Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. Since my dissertation was submitted, I continued research on this topic, which has culminated in a monograph, which will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press, hopefully in the Spring of 2020. Other published writing has come out of this research and can be found in my Writing section.
Cinema Politica (CP) was founded as a media arts non-profit in 2003 by me and Svetla Turnin. It is now the world’s largest on the ground grassroots documentary screening network, with around 100 screening locations across Canada and throughout the world. I serve as the Director of Programming, working with a team of programmers to select dozens of independent political films that screen across our network each year. CP’s main activities revolve around alternative exhibition, “direct distribution” and more recently Video-On-Demand (VOD) distribution.
Documentary Futurism —
Working both in the academic and arts spheres, this research and production project imagines a future “Canada” through the combination of documentary and futurism. Conceived as a initiative of Cinema Politica, where the organization will commission 15 short film projects that will together help usher a new film genre called “documentary futurism,” there is also a research development aspect that informs the larger production plans. The Next 150: Documentary Futurism is funded through a Next Chapter grant with the Canada Council for the Arts, and will be staged between 2017 and 2019, culminating in 15 short films that will circulate across the country, a web space and a publication.
Art Threat — Along with the inimitable Rob Maguire I co-founded Art Threat, a political art and culture blog, back in 2009. Rob ran the show as Editor, I was Contributing Editor and writer of many interviews, missives and film reviews. While Art Threat had its moment in the sun as the number one political art blog for a spell, the site has now eased into retirement. Some good things do come to an end.
Wal-Town was a project conjured to serve two purposes: for me to get home to BC from Montreal in the summer of 2004 and to explore the impact of Walmart stores on communities across Canada. With my good friend Sergeo Kirby, we pitched the idea as a documentary and the National Film Board of Canada soon came on board. Myself and four other activist friends set out for the road trip and the result was a multi-year project that yielded a 2006 documentary film, a now-defunct website, several political actions and speaking events, and research that contributed to the Norwegian Government’s divestment from the Arkansas-based company. Oh, and a slew of amazing photographs, taken by the mulit-talented Jason Gondziola (who took the above photo), also resulted from this odyssey. And on a last side-note about the ironies of corporate capitalism, you can actually buy the film at Walmart. There you have it.