EXTRACOLONIAL: Reflections for Action


Opening Reception at Sur Gallery: Wednesday, February 12, 6-8PM

EXTRACOLONIAL: Reflections for Action brings together a group of Indigenous and Latin American artists—Ulysses Castellanos, Monica Gutierrez Quintero, Yoshua Okón, and Onaman Collective—whose works examine the relationship between extractivism and colonialism as they have impacted the history of the Americas. These works propose alternate activist models to address the sustained systems of inequality seeded in the legacy of natural resource exploitation, including the uneven movement of capital, expropriation of Indigenous lands, deterioration of the natural landscape, and instances of civil unrest. The exhibition’s title marries the terms extractivism and colonialism to evoke their inextricable relationship, nodding towards the deep and insidious roots of their union throughout the Americas. The subtitle is borrowed from Alberto Acosta’s article “Post-Extractivism: From Discourse to Practice—Reflections for Action,” a manifesto that proposes new ways of living with and within the land to undo the grip of extractivism from Latin America’s various economies.

Responding to global calls for action, the artists in this exhibition offer new points of entry into a series of complex causes and histories centered on the commodification of natural wealth. Looking beyond policy and approaching art as activism, their works expose systems of oppression, putting forward strategies to undermine extractive profiteering.

Curated by guest co-curators Noor Alé and Claudia Mattos, founders of AXIS.


Ulysses Castellanos is a Salvadorian-Canadian artist, writer, filmmaker, and curator. His work has been exhibited at the Espacio de Arte Contemporáneo, Montevideo, Uruguay; Cineteca Nacional, Mexico City; Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, University of Sao Paulo; the Dunlop Gallery, Regina; and the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto. His writings have been published by Momus, Blouin Artinfo, Gallery TPW, A Space, and Vtape. Castellanos holds a BFA from the University of Toronto.

Monica Gutierrez Quintero is a Colombian-Canadian artist whose practice includes filmmaking, experimental video, and public art. In her lens-based work, Monica examines histories of social justice and environmental degradation in the Americas. In 2015, she produced and directed a four-part documentary series on extractive activities across Latin America. She directed Raptors Among Us (2016), a TVO Short Doc semi-finalist. Her films have screened at OCAD University, Toronto and Nuit Blanche, Toronto. She lives and works in Toronto.

Yoshua Okón is a Mexican artist whose video practice blends documentary, staged, and improvisational experiments in works that critique the power of political regimes, police brutality, and globalisation. His work has been exhibited at the New Museum, New York; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Okón’s work is represented in the collections of the Tate Modern, London; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; the Museo Jumex, Mexico City. Okón holds an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a BA from Concordia University, Montreal. He lives and works in Mexico City.

Onaman Collective was founded in 2014 by Christi Belcourt, Isaac Murdoch, and Erin Konsmo, a group of Indigenous artists and environmentalists who engage in art-based activism. With a focus on environmental causes as they relate to First Nation communities across Canada, Onaman Collective promotes the power of grassroots organizing and raises the voices of communities engaged in water and land protection actions.

Christi Belcourt is a Michif artist whose cross-disciplinary works in painting, beadwork, and video explore and celebrate the natural world. Her work is held in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. She is a past recipient of the Governor General’s Innovation Awards and the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2014 she was named Aboriginal Arts Laureate by the Ontario Arts Council.

Erin Konsmo is a self-taught visual and multimedia artist of Métis/Cree ancestry from the historic Métis communities of Onoway/Lac St. Anne, Alberta. Through their community-engaged practice, they support education around causes of sexual and reproductive health. They are the Media Arts & Projects Coordinator for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. They hold a BA in Sociology from the University of Calgary and a Master of Environmental Studies from York University.

Isaac Murdoch is an artist, illustrator, author, and a respected storyteller and holder of traditional knowledge. He is from the fish clan and Serpent River First Nation. Much of his work involves the preservation of Anishinaabe cultural practices and he leads workshops around transferring traditional Indigenous knowledge and histories to younger generations. He, along with Christi Belcourt, wrote The Trail of Nenaboozhoo and Other Creation Stories, a compendium of legends of the Ojibway creator spirit and other creation stories.

Noor Alé is the Assistant Curator/Registrar at the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie. Prior to joining the MacLaren, she served as Curatorial Research Assistant for the exhibition Frontera: Views of the US-Mexico Border at the Canadian Photography Institute, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. She has contributed to curatorial and public programs at the Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; Art Dubai; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. She holds an MA in Art History from The Courtauld Institute of Art, London and a BA in Art History from the University of Guelph.

Claudia Mattos is a curator and writer based in Miami, FL. She most recently served as Assistant Curator of Media Arts and Live Events at The Baltimore Museum of Art where she curated the exhibitions Lizzie Fitch / Ryan Trecartin and DIS: A Good Crisis. Previously, Claudia served as Exhibitions and Programming Director for the Miami-based experimental art space Locust Projects and as Curatorial Assistant and Content Editor at Performa. She has contributed to exhibitions and research at The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Independent Curators International, NY; and Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. She earned an MA with distinction in Art History from The Courtauld Institute of Art, London and a BA in Art History and Visual Studies from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Since 2016, Alé and Mattos have shared a collaborative curatorial practice. They are the founders of AXIS, a curatorial laboratory devoted to socially-engaged projects that examine global contemporary art. In late 2019, they participated in the Shanghai Curators Lab, a curatorial residency program organized by the Shanghai Academy of Fine Art, Shanghai International Art City Research Institute, and Power Station of Art.


Latin American Speakers Series: Yoshua Okón

Thursday, February 13, 7PM at Vtape, 401 Richmond St W Suite 452

In partnership with Vtape

Curator Tour

Saturday, March 7, 3-4PM

Latest Videos

EXTRACOLONIAL: Reflections for Action

Leaflet | © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map