Duane Linklater’s practice makes visible notions of cultural loss, social amnesia and family identity from the perspective of the First Nations peoples of Canada. By displaying artefacts, traditions and documentation of the current and historical conditions of Indigenous people in museum contexts, he interrogates the power structures that persist in contemporary museology.
In a new commission for Taipei Biennial, Linklater explores Indigenous architectures and their material potentialities, specifically the teepee canvas. The canvas’ ability to be transported and set up quickly and easily, and to offer strong environmental resistance, are qualities that ensure its continuing importance in Indigenous North American culture.
Linklater’s work first engaged with Indigenous architecture in 2016, with a gift from Doreen: a teepee canvas, gifted to the artist by his former neighbor, Doreen, after he had helped her to take it down following a storm. In leaving the canvas unaltered, Linklater was able to transport the lived experience of the teepee, its seasons of use by Doreen, her family and visitors, to the exhibition space.
In Taipei, Linklater displays three large-scale printed tapestries of varied scales, which follow the pattern of an unfolded teepee canvas, and combine traditional hand-dying techniques with imagery culled from the internet. This technique references Indigenous histories of teepee-painting and mark-making, with imagery having long been used to indicate tribal and familial identities, locations and societal belonging. Composed of downloaded texts and images, manipulated through color treatment, Linklater’s canvases convey the continuing significance of community relationships to contemporary Indigenous culture, discuss the current circumstances of Indigenous people in North America, and signal the complicated position of Indigenous identity in a colonized landscape.
Duane Linklater, born 1976 in Canada, lives and works in Ontario.