A new art installation at Fort Whoop Up looks to address the decolonization of public spaces. The Galt Museum and Archives is hosting the installation by Métis artist Tracey-Mae Chambers — it is part of her nation-wide project, Hope and Healing Canada.
The project include site-specific art installations across Canada and each is made using crochet, knit and woven red yarns. It work I used to illustrate connections between Indigenous, Inuit and Métis peoples with Canadians, according to the Galt Museum.
“Often public spaces serve to present a colonial viewpoint and primarily speak about the settlers who arrived and lived here, but not the Indigenous people that were displaced along the way,” Chambers said. “The decolonization of such places is a ponderous task and must be shouldered collectively.”
The art at Fort Whoop Up will stay until early October and once it is dismantled, will return tot he artist to be re-worked for another site. Part of her project is gathering stories from each venue, which will be compiled into a book and travelling exhibition.
“The discussion of reconciliation and decolonization is hard to start and harder to maintain,” Chambers said. “I am hoping to use my work to help bridge the gap between settlers and Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people by creating art that is approachable and non-confrontational, so we can start.”
Other locations as part of Hope and Healing Canada over the past year have included residential school historical sites, cultural centres, museums, art galleries and other public spaces.
“We are very honoured to host this important project here in Sikoohkotok,” said Tyler Stewart, Galt curator. “It is important that we don’t see people and history as static objects frozen in time, but to constantly re-examine our world through new lenses and ways of thinking — Fort Whoop-Up and its legacy are no exception.”
Chambers’ art project fits in with a larger focus this summer at Fort Whoop Up to tell more complex stories about this piece of local colonial history, according to the museum.
“Gone is the script of facts and figures and in its place ideas and concepts aimed at having thought-provoking and critical conversations with visitors.” reads a news release from the Galt. “A team of bright and knowledgeable Museum Attendants will engage in a dialogue with visitors about life at the Fort during the latter part of the 19th Century through different lenses that examine multiple perspectives on this site.”
Chamber said her art work gets attention because people are not used to seeing art in museums and places such as Fort Whoop Up.
“I don’t want to be confrontational but I do want to have a conversation and I am comfortable having a conversation and then the role of a museum or gallery or public space of any kind is to continue the conversation because it is their job to decolonize the space,” she said.