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Beginning with the Seventies Collective Acts | Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery
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  1. Heather Kai Smith, Group Facing House, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

Beginning with the Seventies

Collective Acts

September 4-December 2, 2018

Opening reception: Thursday, September 6, 6-9 pm

Artist Talk with Christine D'Onofrio and Heather Kai Smith: Saturday, September 29 at 1 pm

Ribbon Skirt and Shirt Workshops: October 19, 20, 21 and 28, 2018

Symposium: Friday, November 2

Intuition Commons Workshop with Christine D'Onofrio: Saturday, November 3

Concert with UBC Contemporary Players: Wednesday, November 28 at 2 pm

Collective Acts taps into the generative potential of archival research by artists into experiments with collective organizing and cooperative production, presenting new work by Dana Claxton, Jeneen Frei Njootli and the ReMatriate Collective, Christine D’Onofrio and Heather Kai Smith, alongside work by Salish Weavers Guild members Mary Peters, Adeline Lorenzetto and Annabel Stewart.

The Service, Office and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada (SORWUC) 1978 protest action against the Muckamuck Restaurant can be traced in a photo mural by Dana Claxton, digitally placing members of the ReMatriate Collective into an archival image of the demonstration. Collective members have lifted a slogan from the picket signs, transforming the message into a banner that festoons the Belkin’s south façade. Claxton and ReMatriate member Jeneen Frei Njootli create a sewing room for the production of ribbon skirts in public workshop events. Frei Njootli captures and renders abstract the sewing machine sounds in an audio work to permeate the acoustic vicinity of the Belkin.

Sourced from a breadth of photographic archives, Heather Kai Smith’s drawings cite women’s gatherings and protests, the collaborative production of art, as well as consciousness-raising gatherings and collective organizing. Using multiple scales and formats, the drawings schematize the spirit of self-organization and resistance that persists into the present day.

Christine D’Onofrio draws on networks of contemporary artists to present an interactive online database – – that destabilizes the bias to individualism in visual art. Projected in a gallery installation, contributors nominate their influencers with visual connections and overlapping stories, keywords and links, in a tangled rhizomatic archive.

Jordan Wilson curates a project examining the history of the Salish Weavers Guild, a collective most active in the 1970s, presenting works by Mary Peters, Adeline Lorenzetto and Annabel Stewart. Photographs and ephemera document the Guild’s efforts to revive a practice that includes knowledge of local plants as well as spinning and weaving techniques, produced within a cooperative economic framework. Recognized nationally, the group completed large-scale public and private commissions and contributed to the development of artistic practice in many Salish communities.

Beginning with the Seventies: Collective Acts is curated by Lorna Brown and is the third of four exhibitions based upon the Belkin Art Gallery’s research project investigating the 1970s, an era when social movements of all kinds – feminism, environmentalism, LGBTQ rights, Indigenous rights, access to health services and housing – began to coalesce into models of self-organization that overlapped with the production of art and culture. Noting the resurgence of art practice involved with social activism and an increasing interest in the 1970s from younger producers, the Belkin has connected with diverse archives and activist networks to bring forward these histories, to commission new works of art and writing and to provide a space for discussion and debate.

The Beginning with the Seventies project is made possible with the generous support of the Vancouver Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, our Belkin Curator’s Forum members and the Department of Canadian Heritage Young Canada Works Program. We are grateful to Marie Weeden, Chilliwack Museum and Archives, Coqualeetza Cultural Education Centre and the UBC Museum of Anthropology for the loan of their Salish weavings.

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689