Guided Visits: acknowledging the land at Simcoe Hall
Rebecca Belmore (b.1960, Anishinaabe)
Catherine Blackburn (b.1984, Dene/European)
Lori Blondeau (b.1964, Cree/Saulteaux/Métis)
Dana Claxton (b.1959, Hunkpapa Lakota)
Caroline Monnet (b.1985, Anishinaabe/French)
Katherine Takpannie (b.1989, Inuk)
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (b.1979, Inuk), with Jamie Griffiths (b.1965, English)
For the first time in its history, the storied Simcoe Hall hosts a long-term installation of contemporary photography from the university’s permanent collection foregrounding some of today’s most respected Indigenous artists from across Canada, spanning several generations. Traditionally, Simcoe Hall displays portraits of leaders who shaped the University of Toronto’s development over nearly two centuries. In a significant gesture acknowledging the importance of making space for Indigenous voices and presence, these portraits have been moved aside to make way for works of art that honour Indigenous continuity and resilience in confronting the colonial occupation of the land.
The works included in this project bear testimony to the past and persistent intentions of colonization, its imprint on the land, reverberations in the body, and impact on contemporary life. Summoning matrilineal lines of solidarity and fortitude, they also attest to indomitable Indigenous resistance and resurgence. Drawing strength from familial, social, and beyond-human relations, some of the artists create self-portraits that emphasize their inextricable networks of connections. An equally central motif is the reckoning with the depths of historical and ongoing trauma, as colonial violence is surmounted by summoning an enduring and restorative love among community. Throughout the exhibition, portraiture elicits a re-imagining of Indigenous self-determination and strength in defying settler oppression.
Together, these works harness the power of symbolic redress within the photographic image, offering layered accounts of the land upon which the University of Toronto operates and the vaster territory that continues to be the home and meeting place of Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island. As chroniclers, creators, and interpreters, artists bring to light important stories, disrupt dominant discourse, and reframe the understanding of history. In these artists’ hands, the camera becomes a world-making instrument, linking narratives across time and place, and offering new points of engagement and connection.
27 King’s College Circle
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1
Visiting and Public Programming Information:
The installation is accessible to the public by appointment. Please contact Melody Lu at email@example.com to plan group tours or register for scheduled guided visits.
Under the leadership of The President’s Office, the installation is produced by the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
Title Image: Dana Claxton, Headdress – Dana, 2021, LED firebox. University of Toronto Art Collection.
Page Image: Caroline Monnet, Echoes from a near future, 2022. Edition 1/3, Inkjet print on Lasal Photo Mat paper mounted on aluminum. University of Toronto Art Collection.