The land surrounding Burrard Inlet, in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, is part of the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. On the inlet’s south shore lies the city of Vancouver, while across the water four reserves line its north shore . . . These overlapping geographical, legal, and urban conditions are part of what might be called the scale of the reserve.
Writing about modernism in colonial contexts, architectural historian Gwendolyn Wright proposes that “the physical environment became a strategy for enforcing common values while maintaining difference within a conjoint modern world.” In Canada, little else exemplifies this statement so strongly as the century-long experiment known as residential schools.
In 2016, the Polish journalist Joanna Gierak-Onoszko arrived in Canada, where she would spend two years reporting for the centre-left weekly magazine Polityka. She first learned of Toby Obed in November 2017, through media coverage of the long-awaited federal apology for residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Domestic spaces have long served as sites of encounter between Indigenous Peoples and colonial powers. Under colonial conditions, the home can become a refuge, but also a site of oppressive state intervention in the most intimate details of daily life.
In recent months, the horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed have prompted widespread reflection on the roles of race and racism in architecture. These events have spurred institutional statements, calls for action, and the sharing of syllabi and reading lists on architecture and race. Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present is a timely addition to these efforts.
We spent six hours a week in our first term learning about the Holocaust from one of the world’s foremost experts on Auschwitz, even as a powerfully tangible reminder of Canada’s own genocidal history stood, silently, a half-hour away. I’d visited Auschwitz, or Oswięcim, as it’s known in Polish, the summer before starting university. It wouldn’t be until graduate school that I would walk through the doors of the Mohawk Institute.
This exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture proposes a timely rereading of postmodernism that moves beyond the period’s self-generated theories, stylistic commonplaces, and images.
Wherein we discuss a complete re-enchantment with technology and the “laboratory,” and how scientists have been working as pseudo-architects all along.
Questions of agency, land rights, and culture arose again and again in the McCord’s retrospective on nineteenth-century photographer William Notman, yet neither Notman’s work nor the exhibition framing it provided any easy answers.
Conference paper on residential school architectures in Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand at SAHANZ 2017.