Exhibitions , San Francisco

Native Art Department International, Bureau of Aesthetics

KADIST has invited Mercer Union, a non-profit artist-run center in Toronto, Canada for an art-space residency and exhibition in San Francisco. Mercer Union has conceived the residency as an incubator to consider collaboration and flexibility as vital approaches to working small-scale.

Together, Mercer Union and KADIST take up these considerations in dialogue with Native Art Department International, a collaborative project by Toronto-based artists Maria Hupfield and Jason Lujan. Their multi-disciplinary practice–comprising performance, sculpture, and video–examines systems of support in the art world while creating strategies across international contexts that challenge narratives that essentialize and instrumentalize specific identities.

For their exhibition at KADIST, Native Art Department International presents a selection of objects that highlight, through their art-making process, how collaboration and cooperation can interrogate art history and strengthen communities. Bureau of Aesthetics allows the artists to experiment with the ambiguous, contentious, or unknown aspects of their work, culminating their first solo exhibition in Canada at Mercer Union in March 2020.

Mercer Union’s residency marks the launch of KADIST’s Art-Space Residency in San Francisco.


Offering a space for experimentation, KADIST’s Art-Space Residency delocalizes context-relevant practices in order to foster new perspectives on discussions taking place locally and beyond. Prior art spaces in residence at KADIST Paris are States of Concept, Athens (2018) and Hangar, Lisbon (2019).

Mercer Union has a unique track record of presenting innovative exhibitions and programs with Canadian and international artists in formative and established stages of their careers. Mercer Union is dedicated to supporting the production of new and experimental work, assisting artists in realizing pivotal projects. The residency at KADIST takes place within the framework of Aggregate, a series of programs initiated by Mercer Union that aims to foster dialogue with like-minded organizations, combining knowledge and resources to expand the potential of the work of the organization.

Native Art Department International is a collaborative long-term project created and administered by Maria Hupfield (Canada) and Jason Lujan (United States). It focuses on communications platforms and art-world systems of support while at the same time functioning as emancipation from essentialism and identity-based artwork. It seeks to circumvent easy categorization by comprising a diverse range such as curated exhibitions, video screenings, panel talks, collective art-making and documenting, and an online presence, however, all activities contain an undercurrent of positive progress through cooperation and non-competition.