“Artivists” to share views about art in action against genocide

International and Indigenous artists join virtual CMHR panel discussion

Tags for “Artivists” to share views about art in action against genocide

A museum exhibit featuring many traditional Indigenous medicine bags hanging from a baby swing. One end of the swing is attached to birch tree trunks and the other to a red wall that includes text panels.

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

News release details

As Canadians struggle with the discovery of unmarked graves of thousands of Indigenous children at residential school sites, a panel of international and Indigenous artists will share their experiences with art that sparks action against genocide.

Moderated by renowned CBC journalist Duncan McCue, the discussion will draw on the work of artists featured in two exhibitions currently on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).

Artivism explores artistic expression as a powerful response to large‐scale violations of human rights. It features the work of six artists and art collectives whose work takes an activist approach to expose, denounce and prevent mass atrocities. Artivism was developed by the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, curated by Kerry Whigham, Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta.

Witness Blanket: Preserving a Legacy explores a monumental art installation by Carey Newman, created with 800 objects collected from survivors and sites of Indian residential schools across Canada.

What / When / Where

  • WHAT: Virtual panel discussion about art in action against genocide
  • WHEN: Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at 1 p.m.
  • WHERE: Live on Zoom (online). Please register in advance. Free.

Panellists include:

  • Elisabeth Ida Mulyani, an Indonesian artist based in Belgium who created one of six installations for Artivism – including 13 golden ears, which symbolically address the 1965-66 disappearance and murder (often with ears kept as souvenirs) of at least half a million Indonesians purported to be communists by the Suharto military dictatorship. Mulyani’s work demonstrates the capacity of art to shine a light on past violence that states are not yet willing to recognize, and the residual effects still felt today.
  • Carey Newman (Hayalthkin’geme), a multi-disciplinary artist and master carver from Victoria with Kwakwak’awakw and Coast Salish roots. He is the creator of the Witness Blanket, a monumental art installation that calls on observers to bear witness to the atrocities of Indian residential schools and honour the children, who included his own father. He is currently Impact Chair in Indigenous Art Practice at the University of Victoria.
  • Aida Šehović, whose family fled Bosnia and Herzegovina, the artist behind the ŠTO TE NEMA “nomadic monument” consisting of 8,372 traditional Bosnian coffee cups arranged on forensic examiners’ racks. The cups memorialize the Bosnian Muslim men and boys who were killed or disappeared during the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, when Bosnian Serb forces invaded a United Nations “safe area.” As part of ŠTO TE NEMA, passersby were invited to fill the little cups with coffee in memory of the victims, creating a tangible link to the impact and loss of genocide.
  • Kerry Whigham, the New York-based co-curator of Artivism and the Director of Research and Online Education at the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. His research is focussed on ways that post-atrocity societies remember and engage with the past – and how a violent past affects present and future. He believes that recovering from genocide is a process that an entire society goes through. Artivism was first displayed at the 2019 Venice Biennale.
  • Linda Young, paskwaw nehiyaw/Plains Cree from Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan (Treaty 6 Territory), a residential school survivor, artist, doctoral student and knowledge keeper. She contributed one of her artworks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Consisting of medicine bags containing the shredded remains of her written story, tied to an empty baby swing affixed to a birch tree, it is now the central piece of a section of Artivism focused on genocide in Canada.

About the moderator

Award-winning journalist Duncan McCue is the host of Cross Country Checkup on CBC Radio One. McCue was a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver for over 15 years. Now based in Toronto, his news and current affairs pieces continue to be featured on CBC's flagship news show, The National. McCue teaches journalism at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and Ryerson University and was recognized by the Canadian Ethnic Media Association with an Innovation Award for developing curriculum on Indigenous issues. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the CMHR creates inspiring encounters with human rights for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.

Media contacts

Maureen Fitzhenry (she/her)