Influenced by residencies, artist-run schools, community-centred activations, and place-based learning CONFLUX is a week-long summer immersive that will bring together a diverse group of artists, activists, and educators in Dawson city.
The event will consist of discursive and practice-led workshops, reading groups, and site-based experiments and projects. There will be pre-planned activities by the host committee and each participant will also lead the group in an activity, event, or other form of learning experience. The program will make use of classrooms at the Yukon School of Visual Arts, local outdoor spaces, heritage sites/sights in Dawson City including the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, Tombstone Territorial Park, and, with permission, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in heritage and teaching sites.
CONFLUX is organized around the confluence of four working concepts: School, Place, Weather(ing), and Time. Gathering together a group of artists with distinct ways living and practicing in the world, the summer intensive program intends to animate the imbricated and complex junctures of these concepts.
Artist-led schools have taken on a multitude of forms and structures, but are often driven by the desire to create learning spaces that are self-determined, flexible, community-based, and intimate. Disrupting the conventions of school as a ‘one-way flow of ideas’ we aim to critically interrogate school’s heterogeneous and contested meanings, practices, and sites. With a focus on reciprocity, care, and intimacy, we strive to address structural exclusions, colonialism, and the marketization of knowledge. What does it mean to radically transform and reconfigure pedagogies and practices in ‘school?’ What are the possibilities of and limits to self-organized education? What might an intimate education do?
Dawson City was named after a geologist, George M. Dawson, who explored and mapped the region in 1887, but who had never actually been to the site where Dawson City was settled. Dawson City is situated within the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, who have lived and travelled in a large area of the Yukon River valley for millennia. The fundamentally different relationships with the land for the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and settler populations, brought together by the iconic Gold Rush at the turn of the last century, continue to shape the cultural landscape today. What does it mean to ‘make work’ and come together in a place without enough time to really get to know a place? How will we practice care and accountability?
In Dawson City one can’t avoid the weather. A favourite expression is: “If you don’t like it, wait 5 minutes!” Weather(ing) decentres the isolated individual as distinct and separate from weather, and foregrounds relations. Weathering means understanding that changing conditions of flooding, drought, and ice storms is never separable from the social, political, and cultural, which includes anti-blackness, ableism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, resource extraction, capitalism, and the commodification of bodies. Weather(ing) also takes up questions of endurance and resiliency. How can we re-imagine and practice a different weather future? How will we weather?
One of the distinguishing features of Dawson City is its architecture; marketed as a ‘gold rush town’ the buildings have been maintained with strict heritage rules to look as though it is still 1898, the height of the goldrush. There are also differences in darkness and light at play – around each solstice, the town experiences nearly 24 hours of light or dark. Time can also foster other ways of being – haptic, transmaterial, spiritual, ritual, and/or land-based – where time is something more than quantifiable and measurable. In what ways can our coming together, for a moment in time, become attuned to corporeal, affective, and entangled temporalities?