Nina Bakan

Nina Bakan
Program

Interdisciplinary PhD student

Supervisor

Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier

Themes

Space, place, knowledge and power
Visual anthropology and materiality

I am an arts programmer and emerging curator from Tkaronto/Toronto pursuing an Interdisciplinary PhD under the co-supervision of Dr. Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (Anthropology) and Dr. Emile Fromet de Rosnay (French, CSPT). I recently completed my MFA in Criticism and Curatorial Practice from OCAD University and come from a professional background in public arts programming and curatorial assistance. I have developed programs and offered programming assistance at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Inside Out: The Toronto LGBT Film Festival, Toronto Public Library, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and Pleiades Theatre.

My research seeks to disentangle the complex relationship between coloniality and ocularcentrism (the prioritization of sight over other bodily senses) within the Western artistic canon and aesthetic traditions. I am interested in how politics of seeing and being seen correlate with colonial conceptions of reality, humanity, and personhood. Such categories limit the depth of human experience and relegate alternative modes of perception (among both humans and nonhuman beings alike) to the rank of sub-human Other.

I am inspired by Donna Haraway’s theory of interspecies kinship, which she refers to as “making kin,” as a lens for critiquing these power structures through art. Making kin calls for the extension of empathy across gender, race, and species boundaries. By bridging systemic barriers that have historically favoured certain lives more than others, I envision making kin as a necessary foundation for decolonial praxis in arts programming and education.

For my dissertation I intend to develop a series of land-based public art installations and teaching workshops in consultation with members of the arts, Indigenous, POC, and queer communities on Vancouver Island. Through these programs I will explore embodiment as a vital site for creative exploration, as an alternative to Western ocularcentric artistic presentation methods. Engaging with the land through both body and mind represents a necessary turn from the colonial sensory hierarchies that revere sight. Instead, I hope to cultivate space for perceiving the world in alternative ways, connecting through empathy to each other and non-human species, and questioning what it means to be human.

Publications:

“Jawa El Khash: The Upper Side of the Sky,” in PUBLIC 61: Currencies of Hospitality (Fall 2020): 305-307.

Conferences:

“Making Kin in H.O.R.I.Z.O.N.: Digital World-building and Collective Acts of Nurture,” The Motherboard: CADN Conference 2021, OCADU

“Making Kin in Collaboration: Subverting Alterity Through Art as Social Practice,” Graduate Studies Colloquium 2020, OCADU

Instagram: @critical.kin