Visual Media and Nationalism in the Crucible of Globalization. Fourth plenary session: Expo67 and Indigenous Cultural Representation

Saturday, November 4
9:00 AM–10:30 AM

Location: Council Room, King's College London

Speaker/performer: Ruth Phillips, LInda Grussani,

Film: Expo67 film
Lecture: Plenary session
Days: Saturday, 4 November

Ruth Phillips (Carleton), “Hard and Soft: The Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo67 as Critique and Romance”

The Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67 came into being as the result of the political activism of a new generation of Indigenous artists and cultural advisors working within the federal government. It presented the first comprehensive, Indigenous-authored narrative of history and contemporary life and was as unprecedented in its combination of idealization and confrontation as in its unexpected popularity. This paper looks both at the pavilion and at the short National Film Board of Canada / Department of Indian and Northern Affairs film made about it by Michel Regnier to examine its precocious achievement as well as the contradictions and ambivalences embodied in its representations and public reception. 

Linda Grussani (Canadian Museum of History/Queen’s University), “Bringing the World to Indigenous Art”

The Canadian Centennial celebrations marked a pivotal moment in the development of Canadian nationalism. In search of a distinctive presence as an independent, modern nation, Canada has internationally promoted art that can be identified as uniquely Canadian. The promotion of Indigenous art, both at home and abroad, forms an integral component of this process. Over the last few decades, significant change in museums and gallery spaces concerning the exhibition of Indigenous visual culture has increasingly become a priority for cultural institutions nationally and internationally. This presentation will discuss the Indians of Canada Pavilion -- the first major exhibition in Canadian history in which Indigenous people obtained full control over the presentation of our histories and cultures -- in terms of the formation of a distinct international image of Canada for a global audience. It will also include a consideration of exhibitions that toured with federal support and how this legacy impacts exhibition practices today.