Kānawapātāhmōwin: A Symposium on Indigenous Visual Knowledge

Monday, 4 March 2024
10:00AM - 5:00PM (AEST)
Chau Chak Wing Museum
This event has ended.
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A symposium about Indigenous ways of seeing, presented in association with the 2024 Biennale of Sydney.

What is an Indigenous way of seeing? And what role does perception play in different Indigenous languages and systems of knowledge around the world?

Kānawapātāhmōwin, a Plains Cree word that denotes a condition of seeing and perceiving, offers one set of answers to these questions. This symposium will present others, bringing together artists and knowledge keepers to discuss the language, history and politics of Indigenous visual knowledge. 

The symposium is convened by Plains Cree scholar, artist and curator Gerald McMaster, who will also deliver a keynote. 




10:00 - 10:30am  Welcome and Introduction
Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero (Artistic Directors, Biennale of Sydney), Gerald McMaster (Visiting Professor, Power Institute, University of Sydney).

10:30 - 12:00pm  Pacific Visual Knowledge
Nikau Hindin (artist, Biennale of Sydney), Udeido Collective (artist, Biennale of Sydney), Katerina Teaiwa (Professor, Australian National University).

12:00 - 1:00pm  Seeing with the Carrolup Collection
Kathleen Toomath (Carrolup Manager, John Curtin Gallery) and Chris Malcolm (Former Director, John Curtin Gallery), Jakelin Troy (Professor, University of Sydney) and Gerald McMaster.



2:00 - 3:30pm  The Mark / The Body
Mangala Bai (artist, Biennale of Sydney), Robert Fielding (artist, Mimili Maku Arts) and Erin Vink (Curator, First Nations art (local and global), Art Gallery of NSW).

3:45 - 5:00pm  A Lecture on Indigenous Visual Knowledge
Gerald McMaster.


Image: Eragrostis alveiformis spikelets 9 NWS, Harry Rose from Dungog, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.


Co-presented by the Biennale of Sydney, and the Power Institute and Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney.

Gerald McMaster is a Visiting Professor in First Nations Art, thanks to the Terra Foundation for American Art. 


More about Gerald McMaster 

More about the Visiting Professorship in First Nations Art


Headshot of Gerald McMaster.
Gerald McMaster

Gerald McMaster is the Director of Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge at OCAD University in Toronto, and a leading voice nationally and internationally, with over 30 years of experience in contemporary art, critical theory, museology, and Indigenous aesthetics. He is Plains Cree from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation and a member of the Siksika Nation. He has served as the Canadian Commissioner for the 1995 Venice Biennale, Artistic Director of the 2012 Biennale of Sydney, and Curator for the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. He is the recipient of Governor General’s Awards for Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for his prolific curatorial legacy. McMaster has served as Adjunct Curator for Remai Modern since 2018.


A large outdoor metal sculpture.

Gerald McMaster, Postcommodity, Harald Gaski, and Leroy Little Bear

A tall tent.

Gerald McMaster, Kent Ayoungman, Floyd P. Favel, and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski

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