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De-Canon: A Social + Literary Art Experiment

A Library Exhibit in conjunction with Reverberating Bodies

De-Canon is a social + literary art experiment that centers works by BIPOC writers and artists, and creates spaces (virtual, physical, via publishing) where those works and voices are honored. De-Canon’s mission is to challenge and unsettle past and existing notions of what constitutes the North American literary “canon” as it has been taught into the 21st century. We accomplish this through positing—not simply an alternative canon, but multiple canons—that are inclusive, diverse, and multi-storied in their approach to representation. De-Canon also engages in experiments with reading and curating that seek to question the concept of canonization itself. 

Launched in August 2017 with a Precipice Fund grant (with funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Calligram Foundation), De-Canon initiated as a month-long “pop-up library” + literary art installation (of 200 books, plus image-text artworks) at UNA Gallery in Portland, Oregon; within this physical space De-Canon hosted weekly events featuring BIPOC writers and artists performing readings, music, poetry performance, discussion groups, film screenings, and more. A second “pop-up library” installation and residency opened in May 2018 at Milepost 5, supported by an APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) Creative Place-Making Grant. During this year-long residency period, De-Canon hosted a photography exhibit, multiple readings and workshops, and expanded the De-Canon collection to 500 books.

As of 2020, De-Canon is exploring remote and asynchronous formats of engagement. In 2022, De-Canon is curating/editing an anthology of hybrid-literary works by women and nonbinary BIPOC writers, to be published in collaboration with Portland-based poetry press/record label, Fonograf Editions. Co-editors on this project are Dao Strom and Jyothi Natarajan. 

De-Canon [III] is the third occurrence of De-Canon as a “pop-up library” installation. The selection of books in the St. Kate’s Library focuses on diasporic Vietnamese authors and works by members of She Who Has No Master(s), a collective project (co-founded and directed by Dao Strom) of Vietnamese women and nonbinary writers who create collaborative polyvocal works. 

Another installation of De-Canon [III] books, highlighting visual art and poetry, can be viewed in the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery.

De-Canon was co-founded in 2017 by two poets, Dao Strom and Neil Aitken. De-Canon also maintains a website and blog of literary resources.

Project Director/Co-Founder, Book Boxes Design: Dao Strom

For more information, visit: de-canon.com

“Cosmic Enchanted Garden” by Christine Nguyen, 2022, archival pigment inks on Entrada Moab paper with salt crystals, 65” x 234.5” 

rock paper salt : the art work of christine nguyen by Dao Strom

Articles & Web Resources

Dao's Influences

Selected Ebooks

Poetry

Fiction

Memoirs and Non-fiction

More selections from De-Canon

©2014 St. Catherine University Library, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA