On Being Illiberal
Carl Beam, Merritt Johnson, Fallon Simard
Curated by Suzanne Morrissette
October 5 – November 24, 2018
One might surmise that relations between Indigenous people and the state have improved, particularly when collaborative terms such as consultation, economic and social partnership, and reconciliation are used in popular discourse. Yet, Indigenous people continue to live and work under conditions restricted by the norms and standards of a society that has been built upon foundations of Western liberal philosophy.
Priority is often given to the needs and aspirations of settler states and their inhabitants over those of Indigenous people within Indigenous territories, with Indigenous cultural and political knowledge and agency regularly portrayed as anti-progress or anti-state—ultimately, illiberal. The media have been known to perpetuate these problematic characterizations, often deferring to notions of justice and rights that have not adequately attended to Indigenous political presence.
As written by curator Suzanne Morrissette: “Indigenous people are often perceived as ‘bad liberals,’ incapable of managing the conditions of modern life and calling into question the freedoms and equality of so-called ‘everyday citizens’.’’ On Being Illiberal brings together the work of three artists – Carl Beam, Merritt Johnson and Fallon Simard – who propose an alternative narrative, one that challenges these perspectives and suggests other possible Indigenous-led futures.