KADIST, San Francisco, California, USA
October 12, 2019 – January 25, 2020
KADIST has invited Mercer Union, a non-profit artist-run center in Toronto, Canada for an Art-Space Residency and exhibition in San Francisco. Mercer Union has conceived the residency as an incubator to consider the approach to institutions working small-scale. Together, both organizations take up a series of questions around collaboration with Native Art Department International (NADI), a collaborative project by Toronto-based artists Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan.
Mercer Union is considered a leader amongst artist-run culture in Canada, placing artists at the center of the organization’s activities to operate as an exhibition space, production platform, research site and resource for the dissemination of knowledge. Mercer Union’s approach focuses on long-term and close collaborations with artists to articulate the stakes in their practice. This ethos is vital to working small-scale and enables the development and mediation of critical and complex artistic endeavors. This objective offers the starting point for Mercer Union’s residency and NADl’s exhibition, Bureau of Aesthetics.
The exhibition presents a selection of objects that highlight, through NADI’s art-making process, how collaboration and cooperation might interrogate art history and strengthen communities. Through a multi-disciplinary practice —comprising performance, sculpture, and video— NADI engage collaborative and collective action as strategies to challenge essentialist readings of contemporary artworks projected onto Indigenous cultural producers. Working across international contexts, their projects and exhibition work to liberate artworks and aesthetics from reductive classifications and fetishization ingrained in colonial systems of power and interpretation.
Each work on view takes up varying methods of collaboration that NADI has employed throughout their practice. In a gesture of acknowledging the long history of collective action that underpins institutional critique within the history of art, the artists have connected with collectives based in the Bay Area. These conversations will continue throughout the course of the exhibition evolving in myriad ways including a display of ephemera in KADIST’s library and street-facing windows. The collectives include Borderline Art Collective, East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest, ONE+ONE+TWO, Project Kalahati, Sanctuary City Project, Slingshot, Street Sheet/Coalition on Homelessness, and 3.9 Collective.
Bureau of Aesthetics is NADI’s first solo exhibition on the West Coast and precedes NADI’s first solo exhibition in Canada at Mercer Union in March 2020. Mercer Union’s residency marks the launch of KADIST’s Art-Space Residency in San Francisco.