What Then Remainz
Disassembled wall(s), powder-coated steel, steel screws
Courtesy of the artist
The words spelled out on the metal framing of this deconstructed wall refer to a US Supreme Court ruling on the jurisdiction of tribal nations in the 2016 case Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. In her closing remarks, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked the rhetorical question “What then remains of the sovereignty of the Indians?” Linklater was drawn to the tension this poetic phrase highlighted in the detached but highly consequential judicial context, where the abstraction of language often obscures its real effects on people’s lives.
Inserted into a permanent gallery wall, the installation gestures to a similar friction at play within the museum, which is both an ideological and a material construct linked to colonialism. Although they are supposed to be neutral containers for objects, museums have historically privileged some perspectives and forms of expression over others and thereby supported belief in white superiority. Linklater symbolically dismantles these structures, while also illuminating the fabricated inner workings of the institution. This is especially significant, he says, “when the galleries are located on contested lands, and the actual material that they are made of is extracted from the land.” At the end of the exhibition, drywall is applied over the red-painted studs, which live on invisibly within the museum.