2018LUNCH-AND-LEARN SERIES, JEFF THOMAS’ INDIANS ON TOUR
22 January – 6 April 2018
Sheridan College, Mississauga
Co-programmed in partnership with the Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support
Jeff Thomas is an independent curator and photographer who deals, in examination of his own history and identity, with issues of aboriginality that have arisen at the intersections of Native and non-Native cultures in what is now Ontario and northern New York state. The five images in this exhibition were selected from his larger series, Indians on Tour, which presents ‘Indian’ toy figures at popular sites in North America and Europe. The toys were a gift to the photographer from Ali Kazimi, whose film, Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffrey Thomas, documents Thomas’ artistic journey as well as Kazimi’s own unlearning of his preconceptions about Indigenous peoples.
The plastic toys featured in Indians on Tour reference the Cowboys-and-Indians narrative that was common in travelling vaudeville performances of the Wild West, Hollywood classics and childhood games. By posing them in front of key landscapes and monuments, Thomas reframes these stereotypical figures as tourists in their own right, not a spectacle to behold. His playful and provocative juxtapositions expose stereotypes of Indigenous peoples and, at the same time, highlight issues that impact contemporary communities such as land ownership and territory, urbanization and gentrification and histories of Euro-American representation and display.
Lunch & Learn talks and screenings were programmed every week to explore contemporary Indigenous experiences as well as alliances across Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Lunch & Learn with Jeff Thomas.
Lunch & Learn with guest speaker Chief Stacey LaForme, poet, storyteller, and elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Photo by Sammy Gromley.
Lunch & Learn with guest speaker Malissa Phung, a second-generation settler descendant of Chinese-Vietnamese refugees who have resettled on the territories of the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakado, and Tongva peoples. Having completed her PhD dissertation on remembering Sino-Indigenous relations in representations Chinese labour in Chinese Canadian literature and documentaries, she currently writes about Asian-Indigenous kinship in Asian North American and Indigenous literature. An adjunct professor of English literature and Communication at Sheridan and Trent University, Phung discussed the parallel histories of exoticism and exclusion that Chinese migrants and Indigenous peoples in Canada have experienced, histories complicated by race and settler colonialism.
Screening of Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffrey Thomas, a film by Ali Kazimi. Courtesy of Vtape. Photo by Sammy Gromley.
Lunch & Learn with guest speaker Meagan Byrne, who is Métis game designer from Hamilton, Ontario. She is co-director of Indigenous Routes and Dames Making Games and is the founder of Achimostawinan Games.