Dr. Julie Nagam is an emerging artist, curator and Assistant Professor in OCAD U’s Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Indigenous Visual Culture program, and she is the recipient of a major Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Development grant for The Kanata Indigenous Performance, New and Digital Media Art Project. It’s a landmark effort to map and identify Canadian Indigenous performance, digital and new media art that will culminate in an inclusive, interactive website archive for researchers and the Indigenous community.
“I’m excited about the potential of the funding,” said Nagam. “This is a project that needed to happen. There’s a strong connection between Indigenous performance, digital and new media artwork, but until now there’s been a gap in both access and scholarship in these areas, especially in the Canadian context. The project will provide archive material for up-and-coming scholars, curators and artists with vital resources in the fields of performance, new and digital media.”
Nagam, together with her co-applicants, Dr. Carla Taunton, an Assistant Professor, Art History and Critical Studies at the NASCAD University, and Dr. Heather Igloliorte, Assistant Professor, Art History, Concordia University, are working together collaboratively and each bring regional specializations to the mapping process of the project. Nagam’s focus is on central Canada and the central north, while Igloliorte is covering the north and Taunton is working on emerging east coast aspects.
The project team will research creative practices, aesthetics, performance and digital media, tracing Indigenous practices and methodologies throughout Canada. They’ll look at existing archives at V-tape, ImagineNATIVE, Obx Laboratory for Experimental Media, Isuma, Arnait Video and Unikaat, to name only a few. In addition to the website archive, the team will also work together on a special Indigenous performance and digital media themed edition of a peer-reviewed journal. The funding also creates opportunities to hire, support and mentor Indigenous graduate students here at OCAD U and other Canadian universities.
An important aspect of the website archive is the team will be developing interactive elements. Artists themselves will be invited to engage with it, add new content, help fill in gaps and get involved. “We want participation from the artists so they can add to the story and catch missing work,” said Nagam. “Web and new media work can so easily get lost, so the artists can help identify important pieces and add to their profiles.”
The grant will help fund project development for two years and is valued at $70,000, but as Nagam notes, this is only the beginning. “I would like to see a large-scale research project and a commitment to documenting this rich archive,” said Nagam. “It has so much potential. It will be great to expand the team, add to the website archive and build a large-scale exhibition and conference that would visualize and analyze this rich body of knowledge.”
About Julie Nagam
Dr. Julie Nagam’s research focus is on (re) mapping the colonial state through creative interventions within concepts of native space. She specializes in cultural geography, Indigenous critical theory, cultural and post-colonial theory, gender, activism and racial configurations within history, space and creative practices. Her site-specific research has taken her to Pangnirtung, Nunavut, rural and remote areas of Manitoba and Iceland, and she has conducted research on the Indigenous histories of Toronto for the Visible City Project + Archive.
Nagam is also an active mixed media artist working in drawing, photography, painting, sound, projections, digital media and curatorial projects. Some of her recent work includes “Where White Pines Lay Over the Water,” a sound and media installation shown here in Toronto and in Brazil, and “Singing Our Bones,” an interactive installation which was part of Landslide/Possible Futures in Markham ON, and Ecocentrix in London England.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
Julie Nagam faculty biography