Artist Duane Linklater initiated the Don River Valley Park Art Program with a striking installation of cast concrete gargoyles on the Lower Don Trail. The sculptures are cast replicas of gargoyles adorning prominent buildings in downtown Toronto.
Linklater’s project stems from an interest in the structural changes made to the Lower Don River as it became an industrial hub in colonial Toronto. The artist asks the viewer to look closely at the trajectory of Toronto’s history and the changes made to the natural environment with the development of cities in settler societies.
The gargoyle as an icon communicates power and authority; it is a protector of a certain kind of colonial space.
Linklater proposes to re-deploy or re-purpose the figure of the gargoyle in relation to the Don River.
Linklater’s gargoyle sculptures focus attention on the Lower Don’s role in Toronto’s industrialization, while sparking a larger conversation regarding ongoing Indigenous and colonial occupation of the city. The sculptures are a long-term installation in the Don River Valley Park.
Born in Moose Factory, Ont. in 1976. Lives and works in North Bay, Ont.
Duane Linklater is Omaskêko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation. Working in performance, installation, film and other media, Duane Linklater addresses issues of cultural loss and recovery as well as authenticity, appropriation and authorship. He often collaborates with others, reconsidering oral traditions where the transmission of knowledge, stories or histories is essential to future generations. His research on the land and language of Newfoundland’s extinct Beothuck people forms one project, while the film Modest Livelihood—part of dOCUMENTA (13)—shows Linklater and Brian Jungen on a hunting trip, referencing First Nations’ rights to fish and hunt.
Linklater received a Bachelor of Native Studies and a BFA from the University of Alberta. He completed his MFA in film and video at Bard College in 2012, where his thesis exhibition involved planting 12 Home Depot blueberry bushes on the lawn outside Bard’s Centre for Curatorial Studies. Linklater’s work has been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, New York’s Family Business Gallery and the Power Plant. He is the winner of the 2013 Sobey Art Award.