Cathy Busby edits and re-composes public documents to provoke close readings of how speech acts and linguistic gestures are enacted and circulated. She has produced text-based installations and printed matter that draw attention to the ways that governments obfuscate their accountability towards Indigenous rights and title in public address, policy and service. This series includes We Are Sorry (2008-10), Budget Cuts (2012), Cut and Muzzled (2014) and Taking Up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action (2016).
In dialogue with these works, WE CALL is composed of 11 selections from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) 94 “Calls to Action”. This document accompanies the 500-page report that synthesizes the TRC's inquiry into the inter-generational legacy of Canada's Indian Residential School System. Busby's selections highlight the ways that governmental, educational and cultural institutions are called on by the TRC to cultivate Indigenous leadership, stewardship and participation within structural systems. Through patterning and repetition, Busby's vivid floor-to-ceiling text painting makes these calls visible and persistent in the intellectual, social and bureaucratic life of SFU. A PDF booklet detailing the selected calls can be downloaded below.
The work's title, WE CALL, abbreviates the address of each call to action to emphasize the mutual responsibility of the caller(s) to participate in enacting these structural shifts. Through its exhibition, Busby and curator Amy Kazymerchyk met with SFU faculty and staff across disciplines to query how the Calls to Action were being activated in departmental structure, pedagogy and curriculum. In Fall 2017 SFU Galleries hosted an advisory committee at SFU Gallery comprised of faculty, alumni and students to discuss how SFU Galleries could better support Indigenous cultural workers, artists and audiences.
Parallel to the Teck Gallery installation, Busby also collaborated with staff, faculty, students and community members of the Gitksan Wet'suwet'en Education Society (GWES) in Hazelton, BC, to install an iteration of WE CALL in their school halls.
Busby is a Canadian artist and activist based in Vancouver. Since the 1980s, her practice has addressed local political conditions and social structures as they express critical global issues. Busby was a Fulbright Scholar at New York University and holds a PhD in Communication from Concordia University. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Visual Art at UBC.
Curated by Amy Kazymerchyk.