SFU Audain Gallery welcomes anthropologist Hugh Brody to discuss Maps and Dreams exhibition on July 5

June 28, 2017

By Ian Bryce

Northeastern British Columbia has a history of tension. From conflict between Indigenous Peoples and settlers leading to Treaty 8 in 1899 to additional strain with the development of oil and gas resources today, people in the region hardly lead simple lives.

Maps and Dreams is a new art exhibition showing at SFU’s Audain Gallery in Vancouver from June 1 to July 29 that explores the complexity of land use in the north from diverse perspectives. The exhibition features the work of Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from the Dane-zaa territory in northeastern B.C. including: Jack Askoty, Brittney and Richelle Bear Hat, Jennifer Bowes, Brenda Draney, Emilie Mattson, Karl Mattson, Garry Oker, and Peter von Tiesenhausen.

“Dane-zaa stories speak to an intimate and reciprocal knowledge of land that is not separate from human or animal existence,” says SFU Galleries Director and exhibition co-curator Melanie O’Brian, who organized the project with internationally renowned Dane-zaa artist Brian Jungen. “The Dane-zaa have a practice of creating maps from dreams which hold a spatial and sacred understanding of the land. Visions are drawn onto hides as dream maps. These rarely seen maps are keys to Dane-zaa memory, land use, spirituality, and survival.”

On July 5, Hugh Brody, renowned British anthropologist, filmmaker, and philosopher, will give a special presentation at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre speaking about the exhibition in relation to his own work.

In 1981, Hugh Brody published Maps and Dreams—which the exhibition derives its name from—charting the Dane-zaa’s hunting, trapping, fishing, and ceremonial territories. The book describes the culture and history of the Dane-zaa working against colonization and specifically the pressures to compete with resource, agriculture and recreational industries.  

“Hugh Brody has extensively written on how agricultural heritage invades, transforms and militarizes the worlds it overcomes and creates,” says O’Brian. “This talk goes further in considering resource extraction and the new intensification of pressure on the territories of the Treaty 8 communities. Brody's continued work around Indigenous and settler communities considers how the modern treaty process is still unfolding.”

Brody has been an important advocate in the field of Indigenous land use and rights, of which Maps and Dreams is only one project. He is the author of The People's Land (1975), one of the first close-up looks at how Inuit life and lands have been colonized by southerners; and The Other Side of Eden: Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the World (2000). He has made films with many First Nation and Indigenous communities, and co-directed the NFB film Treaty 8 Country (1981). He has taught widely and currently holds a Canada Research Chair at the University of the Fraser Valley.

The talk is co-presented with the SFU Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

Admission is free. The talk begins at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Jul. 5 at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre. Find more information here.