Susan Schuppli lives and works in London, UK
On November 29, 1990, the frozen body of 17-year-old Neil Stonechild of the Salteaux First Nation was discovered by construction workers in a remote industrial area of Saskatoon, Canada. It later emerged that he had been subjected to a “starlight tour,” a clandestine police practice of taking Indigenous people into custody and then dropping them off in remote areas rather than driving them to a police station, to spare officers the trouble of filing paperwork. Abandonment in subzero temperatures often ends in death by hypothermia. In Freezing Deaths & Abandonment Across Canada, Susan Schuppli examines several such fatal cases as well as authorities’ dismissals of survivor testimonies––like those of the siblings Rob and Joel Houle of the Swan River First Nation. Climate is the murder weapon but structural racism is the perpetrator; when racialized people are taken into custody, abuse is the most widespread outcome.
In Icebox Detention Along The Us-Mexico Border, Schuppli surveys another instance of temperature weaponization that targets migrants attempting to enter the United States via its southern border. Held in “icebox” cells in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention centers, they are dissuaded from claiming asylum with the threat of further freezing conditions at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Weaponizing Water Against Water Protectors highlights the water cannons used against Dakota Access Pipeline protestors at Backwater Bridge, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The temperatures were so low that icicles formed on the barbed wire barricades erected by authorities, and more than 300 protesters had to be treated for hypothermia.
Detailing the manifold meanings of the word cold—including the expression used to describe an unsolved case that is no longer under investigation—Schuppli’s Cold Cases (2021–22) series indicts white indifference and apathy toward Indigenous and racialized lives as the real culprit enabling thermal torture tactics.
Ana Teixeira Pinto
Ex-post, 2022, Artspace Aotearoa, Auckland (NZ)
Toronto Biennial of Art 2021, 2022, Toronto (CA)
The Ocean, 2021, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen (NO)
im/possible images, 2021, Lothringer 13 Halle – Ein Kunstraum der Stadt München, Munich (DE)
The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100, 2019, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (RS)
15th Venice Biennale of Architecture: Reporting from the Front, 2016, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (IT)
Evidence on Trial, 2014, Stroom Den Haag, The Hague (NL) (solo)