Critical Writing Index

Unsettling Sex

by John G. Hampton

Toronto: V tape, 2012

An introduction by Lisa Steele provides background on VTape’s “Aboriginal Digital Access Project” and its goals, namely the digitization of 500 artworks and documentaries by Indigenous media artists in the Vtape holdings. This initiative's aim is making these works accessible to programmers, librarians, buyers and curators around the world through VTape's digital preview website. Steele also introduces the program “Unsettling Sex” curated by John G. Hampton, who was invited to select works included in VTape’s ADAP.

John G. Hampton's essay "Unsettling Sex" articulates the curatorial research and theoretical influences which underpin the program. He describes Indigenous sexuality as complex and unfixed, despite colonial attempts to forcibly regulate and erase its expression. Hampton suggests that the strategies of the artists included in "Unsettled Sex" are distinct from a politics of "counter-identification", instead seeking to deconstruct systems of colonial and institutionalized domination from within. He situates the included videos at a cooperative intersection of queer theory and Native Studies. According to his analysis, these works engage the ramifications of settler-colonial constructions of gender and sexuality as they implicate both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, foregrounding and deconstructing heteropatriarchal structures of power without an emphasis on identity politics.

Hampton's curatorial text includes description and critical analysis on the included work of each artist - Kent Monkman, James Diamond, Marnie Parrell, and Ariel Smith. The publication also includes biographies of these four artists and the curator.

ITEM 2012.145 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

VTape's Aboriginal Digital Access ProjectLisa Steele

Unsettling SexJohn G. Hampton

Dance to Miss ChiefKent Monkman

Mars-Womb-ManJames Diamond

I am the art scene starring Woman PolanskiJames Diamond

About TownMarnie Parrell

Dear DiaryAriel Smith

Target GirlsAriel Smith