Anthropological and encyclopaedic museums are intrinsically connected to colonial strategies and violent histories, perpetuating prejudiced worldviews and exclusionary methodologies. In a discussion focused on contentious collecting and preservation practices rooted in extractive imperialism and systematic looting, curators Candice Hopkins, Dan Hicks and Julie Crooks will consider frameworks for the restitution of art and material culture. Examining the ethics of care within museological institutions and the role curators play in telling and repairing complicated histories, this panel seeks to propose tools for decolonizing museums and envisioning new exhibition strategies.
Presented in conjunction with the Koffler Gallery exhibition, A Heap of Random Sweepings in which artist Sameer Farooq creates a meditative space to envision what the museum might become through the mechanics of restitution, what it may shift to collect and document, and what kind of experiences it could nurture.
Candice Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her writing and curatorial practice explores the intersections of history, contemporary art and indigeneity. She works as senior curator for the 2019 and 2022 editions of the Toronto Biennial of Art and was part of the curatorial team for the Canadian Pavilion of the 58th Venice Biennale, featuring the work of the media art collective Isuma. She is co-curator of notable exhibitions including Art for New Understanding: Native Voices 1950s to Now; the 2018 SITE Santa Fe biennial, Casa Tomada; documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany; Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada and Close Encounters: The Next 500 Years in Winnipeg, MB. Her essays include “The Gilded Gaze: Wealth and Economies on the Colonial Frontier,” for the documenta 14 Reader, “Outlawed Social Life” for South as a State of Mind, and “The Appropriation Debates” (or The Gallows of History), for MIT Press.
Dan Hicks is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, and the author of various books including The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution which has been described by Ben Okri OBE as “a startling act of conscience”, by The Economist as “a real game-changer”, by The Guardian as “beautifully written and carefully argued”, and by the Sunday Times as “destined to become an essential text.”
Julie Crooks is Curator of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Crooks holds a PhD in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K., and has played an integral role in the acquisition of the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs.