Michael Chambers, Stephen Fakiyesi, Dana Inkster, Dionne Simpson, Camille Turner, Syrus Marcus Ware
A Space Main Gallery
January 13 – February 11, 2006
Opening January 13, 2006, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm
Curated by: Natalie Wood
“The politics of representation in the current art context of a multicultural Toronto is complex and often problematic” states curator Natalie Wood. “Artists who choose to represent their racialized identity, whether by choice or by economic necessity, often struggle against the prevailing prejudice that work dealing with identity politics delivers issues and content often to the detriment of form and aesthetics…claims of representing the ‘black experience’ often leaves artists open to charges of essentialism, reductionism, and stereotype.” I Represent brings together six artists to exhibit works that enter into a dialogue concerning the desire, the expectation and the impact of contemporary black representation. Featuring some of the most important emerging to senior Canadian artists working in the area of cultural race politics, the artists variously embrace, critique, and struggle against the constraints of representation and its impact on their personal and professional lives. Working in a variety of media and practices, their work ranges from painful and personal positions to ironic, irreverent, and reconstituted perspectives of history, identity and popular culture reflecting a complex diversity of cultural practice and expression.
Michael Chambers’ installation is part of an ongoing photo-based series entitled The Box in which he employs the box as a metaphor to explore the packaging and commoditization of black identity, its historical roots, and its limitations. Dionne Simpson’s deconstructed canvases explore the conflict between diversity and conformity, culture and class through depictions of urban landscapes. Dana Inkster pushes the boundaries of contemporary oral histories in an experimental video which has her protagonist searching for reflections of herself in a smoky gay bar, evoking archetypal stories of heroes and their monumental quests for self-determination. Syrus Marcus Ware’s large-scale painted self-portrait combines personal history with clinical anatomical drawing to explore issues of transgendered representation and the legacy of slavery on identity. Stephen Fakiyesi appropriates images and symbols associated with empire, colonialism, post-colonialism and pop culture, de-contextualizing them into stencilled decals and cutouts. In her video installation, Camille Turner reprises her invented title as “Miss Canadiana,” a celebrity with self-declared ambassadorial power. In this installment of her Red, White and Beautiful performance series, she is interviewed about and displays her petition to integrate black history into Canadian history by turning Black History Month into a year-long series of events.
Camille Turner, The Petition, 2006, video still
Camille Turner is a Toronto-based media/performance artist and cultural producer. She is a founding member of Year Zero One and has presented her collaborative projects, community engagements, public performance and digital interventions at venues such as: Dak’art lab 2004, La Biennale de lÕart African contemporain, Senegal and at the Banff New Media Institute. She was a visiting artist at Interaktions-Labor in Germany and at The Container Project in rural Jamaica. Turner is currently artist-in-residence at Central Neighbourhood House.
Natalie Wood is a multimedia artist, curator, and arts educator based in Toronto. She has an MA in art education, and teaches at schools, art centres, and health organizations to develop and support health and creativity, especially within black and queer communities.