Guests & Hosts, Unsettler Space, 2020
Book Launch: Unsettling Educational Modernism
Friday, March 4, 6 – 8pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre and Zoom
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
A book presentation and conversation between June Scudeler, Treena Chambers, Toni-Leah Yake, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber to launch Unsettling Educational Modernism.
In 2020, Sabine Bitter & Helmut Weber, Métis scholar June Scudeler with Métis scholar and student Treena Chambers, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) student Toni-Leah Yake, as well as artists and students Rachel Warwick and Hannah Campbell formed the collaborative research group “Guests and Hosts” to challenge the narrative of Simon Fraser University as the radical campus, a campus informed by 1960s experimental concepts of learning and teaching.
Unsettling Educational Modernism reworks the history and possibilities of this “radical campus” and its built environment by rethinking the iconic architecture of the brutalist modernist megastructure of Simon Fraser University, built by architect Arthur Erickson.
The photography-based works that this research project generated shift perspectives to challenge western-based concepts of pedagogy and knowledge and the spaces of the settler colonial institution. Combining photographic material drawn from SFU’s archive, architectural photographs by the artists, and texts on institutional spaces from both Indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives, Unsettling Educational Modernism performs a claim for spaces for Indigenous ways of knowing and learning.
Unsettling Educational Modernism was published on the occasion of the exhibition Education Shock. Learning, Politics and Architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin. The book is part of a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) Insight Development Grants, Fine arts, research-creation Performing Spaces of Radical Pedagogies located at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University on the unceded territories of the Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) people, also known as Burnaby, Vancouver, Canada.
Presented by the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU in partnership with SFU Galleries.
Vancouver-based artist Sabine Bitter teaches visual art at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, and she collaborates with Vienna-based artist Helmut Weber on projects addressing cities, architecture, and the politics of representation and of space. Mainly working in the media of photography and spatial installations their research-oriented practice engages with specific moments and logics of the global-urban change as they take shape in neighborhoods, architecture, and everyday life. Dealing with architecture as a frame for spatial meaning, their ongoing research includes projects like “Educational Modernism” and “Housing the Social”. In 2004, Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen and Helmut Weber have formed the urban research collective Urban Subjects. Recently Urban Subjects curated the exhibition “If Time Is Still Alive” with Camera Austria, Graz, and participated in the city laboratory project of Forum Freies Theater Düsseldorf “Place Internationale, The 73 Days of the Commune.”
June Scudeler (Métis) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies, cross-appointed with the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. Her research examines the intersections between queer Indigenous studies, Indigenous literature, film, and art. She is now delving into Indigenous horror. She has published articles in Native American and Indigenous Studies, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Canadian Literature, Studies in Canadian Literature and Transmotion. Her chapters are included in Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics and Literature, Performing Indigeneity, Cambridge Handbook of Queer Studies and A People and a Nation: New Directions in Contemporary Métis Studies
Treena Chambers is a Métis scholar who has worked as a union organizer, writer, bookseller, and researcher. She has worked on the categorization and digitization of archival materials on projects such as The People and The Text, with the Indigenous Voices Awards and the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. She completed her BA in International Studies at SFU and who brings her experience as a mature student and her Métis background into her studies of nationhood and identity. Treena’s past experience includes co-curating and organizing the Robson Reading Series. In 2018 Treena’s work “Hair Raizing”, was shortlisted for Unpublished Prose Piece for the Indigenous Voices Awards and then again in 2020 for her work “Forest Fires and Falling Stars”. Works by Treena Chambers include: The Peak, titled “SFU Mural is an UnWarranted Reminder of Canada’s Colonial Past” (2018), Hair Razing “Alaska Quarterly Review.” Poets & Writers, vol. 36, no. 3, Poets & Writers, Inc, (2020).
Toni-Leah C. Yake (European, Kanien’kehá:ka and Haudenessaunee - Turtle Clan) is a composer and artist currently residing on the unceded, traditional, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and Sel̓íl̓witulh Nations. Her work aims to explore Indigenity, history, blood memory, trauma, and healing. They are a student in the department of Indigenous Studies at Simon Fraser University, and a student of composition in the Music Department of Simon Fraser Universities School of Contemporary Arts.
Helmut Weber (collaborator) lives and works in Vienna, Austria. His thirty years of artistic practice is based on project and research-oriented works. Trained as a visual artist with a particular focus on architecture and urban space, his experience in contemporary art is driven by a critical engagement in politics of space and questions of representation. Weber is collaborating with Sabine Bitter. In 2004, they formed the urban research collective Urban Subjects with Canadian writer Jeff Derksen.
Recent projects and exhibitions by Bitter & Weber include 2021: “Education Shock”, HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; “Spaces of No Control”, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York. 2019: “Making Ruins”, Republic Gallery, Vancouver; 2018: “Camera Austria International”, Museum der Moderne, Salzburg.
Guests & Hosts
In spring 2020 the research group called Guests & Hosts was formed by Sabine Bitter, Hannah Campbell, Treena Chambers, June Scudeler, Rachel Warwick, Helmut Weber, and Toni-Leah Yake on the occasion of the invitation to participate in the exhibition Education Shock. Learning, Politics and Architecture in the 1960s and 1970s, April – July 2021 at HKW (Haus der Kulturen der Welt) Berlin, curated by Tom Holert. Collaboratively the group developed and realized the photographic work Unsettler Space (2020) and published the artists book Unsettling Educational Modernism. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Vancouver (2021).