Dylan Miner’s talk titled “All space is public. All land is indigenous. All ownership is violence” took place in front of a full audience on Tuesday, Jan 26 in the Recital Hall of the FAB. Engaging, boldly headlined, and educational, it was one of those rare affairs at K where one leaves with a feeling of having been part of a larger conversation.
Dylan Miner is an artist, scholar, and activist of Wiisaakodewinini (Métis) descent who also teaches at Michigan State University and is MSU’s current Director of American Indian Studies.
Introducing himself in his native language before introducing himself in English, Miner demonstrated his overarching philosophy of resistance against violence—that is to say, practices of violence inherent in our capitalist and neo-colonial systems.
The talk introduced us to his body of work, which ranges from prints to pennants to mobile printing presses and community based workshops. He works with children and elderly in many of his projects.
Miner also collaborates with inanimate objects and natural surroundings, which to him are almost beings in themselves. Involving aspects of nature such as land and water in his work allows him to think about humans in relation to the environment.
“You don’t have nature and culture that are different. As humans we are part of a larger ecosystem,” Miner said.
Whether the title of his talk can be lived in practice or embodied through art is a question for us all and certainly was for those present at the talk. Miner had this to say about it:
“Art can be one of those spaces where you can move in that direction. There are things happening [in alternative art spaces] that exist outside and in opposition to what you see in New York City galleries and mainstream museums, and that’s what interesting to me.”
To put it differently, art can happen in places where most of us don’t expect to look; for Miner, it is more than the end product. Art is found in the social relations that form between people during the process of making art.
His Art Prize project “Anishinaabensag Biimskowebshkigewag” (Native Kids Ride Bikes) is itself a series of workshops that facilitates indigenous youth in building bikes.
As Miner puts it, “the bikes exist as objects of those new social networks of those relations but the bikes themselves aren’t the art work.”