The art exhibition “Past, Present, Pause” explores and celebrates “notions of difference”
be the last exhibition of the contemporary gallery, Past, Present, Pause is an exploration of “notions of difference” by five artists from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).
It could just as easily have been titled History, Essence, Vision or Heritage, Reclamation, Celebration: the exhibition, curated by member of the Black Artist Collective Sean George, is a stimulating look at the objects, landscapes and images at through a BIPOC lens.
It’s about pushing the boundaries, says George, and reassessing the context in this digital age.
“I think what’s great about the internet is that it can put things out of context, but can also put things in context,” he says – providing a common vocabulary of images that become defined by their context.
In her work, the artist from Barrie invites the viewer to reconsider meaning and context through the juxtaposition of images. Its installation at to be a contemporary gallery is titled Strange fruits – “a sort of tribute” to Billie Holiday’s song Strange Fruit, “the first protest song”, but also a new and personal interpretation.
George was inspired by the “art chain” that generated Strange Fruit – the 1930 photograph of the lynching of two African Americans, which led to the poem written by Jewish teacher and activist Abel Meeropol, who was turned into a song in 1937 and first played by Holiday in 1939, and this contributed to its downfall.
“This song is about power, control and limitation, and the movements that rise.” He inspired his “idea of a tree” created from power cords, both connected and disconnected, combined with an image from the Black Panther movement and a colorful painting of children playing, reflected in a depiction. equally colorful of slaves picking cotton – a juxtaposition of innocence and subjugation.
Unveiling layers of meaning, the response is visceral; “That’s where the idea for Past, Present, Pause came from.
In organizing the exhibition, George brought together works by artists who, in the same way, revisit and interpret the past through the eyes of the present.
For the Mauritian photographer Ryan Osman, it was important to revisit the iconic imagery of the Far North and to question the colonial artistic traditions which portray the North as an empty landscape, an “absence of presence”.
Osman sees the human element in the landscape as the key – “the distinct but diverse perspective of the life of northern indigenous communities” in a “majestic and at times ruthless” but still vibrant and beautiful landscape.
Working on environmental and community projects in northern Ontario, Quebec and Labrador, he says, “I generally try to document my travels (and) the unique relationship between indigenous people and the land” – eliminating prejudices to present images of “what this looks like, how grand it is, how indigenous peoples have a symbiotic relationship with the land.”
For Dawn Cain, photography is a relatively new field of expression. The multimedia artist, writer, activist and filmmaker saw the invitation to participate in the exhibition as an opportunity “to explore my heritage, my culture and the contemporary issues that are central to my concerns individually and my community collectively. “.
With herself as a model, she celebrates “the beauty of marginalized hair” in a series of three photographs that feature images of tribalism, freedom and escape from oppression.
As an African-native Canadian, “tribal is very important to me… Even though we’re so far down in history, we still need that guidance,” she says, offering a “modern take on what to do with it. would look like tribalism now ”.
Its breathtaking profile is even more powerful, Map to freedom, evoking a sense of history with visual reference to the iconic beauty of Nefertiti, but with the tightly braided hair that was a hidden tongue from slaves, blazing routes to freedom.
“I was a line cook a year ago. I have always been a photographer at heart. I have always experimented with digital photography, ”Cain says. It was the pandemic that gave the freedom to explore, to “be so creative in our darkest hours.”
“We have all the answers. We just have to work together.
Indigenous artist Tim Laurin, who is Métis, and Nathalie Bertin, who describes himself as Métis, French and Algonquin, are also building new vocabularies from imagery and traditions of the past.
Bertin’s works – a painting; Handmade western style clothing with a traditional beaded medallion; a ‘Moccusion’ of fur and pearls – are all expressions of her own Indigenous spirit and part of a mission to ‘present a different view of Indigenous peoples – a positive, powerful, knowledgeable, gentle and kind’, but without romanticism.
“The physical is not what matters. It is the essence of the mind that counts.
Laurin describes artistic creation as “a search for belonging and an affirmation of my identity”.
His works are his version of visual archeology transforming glass, metal, and found materials, including dogwood sticks and a 1950s ceramic Indian head, into totem and ceremonial objects.
“The objects we choose to keep have always fascinated me. What do these elements suggest about our identity? He asks, while creating a new, authentic and convincing narrative through the juxtaposition of materials.
Past, Present, Pause is not so much an “exploration” as a celebration of difference.
Time, history and imagery are also at the heart of The Age of Spin – Welcome to the Machine, the exhibition of Sean-William Dawson in the smallest gallery of the BHCV project.
“Our window to the world has now become a digital collage, where we question everything, even our own experiences,” says Dawson. Her work combines iconography from television, film and pop culture with her own family history and today’s social issues.
“I like pop culture. Since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the influences of television shows on society. Now, with social media, the tragedies are running parallel – we are blurring the line between reality and entertainment.
Down, a series of four serigraphs on vintage wallpaper in handcrafted reclaimed wood frames, illustrates this theme: the decorative color palette and color progression obscures reality, which the images are made up of overlaid photos of a screaming Janet Leigh from the iconic shower sequence in Psycho.
Dawson confesses a fascination with the villains and tragedies of pop culture, in which he weaves his own personal story of family loss. A number of works combine designs based on family photos with pop images, using colors selected from a popular Internet color wheel to evoke emotion.
“Using pop culture in a different way. This is how pop culture is, in our society – more and more layers.
Her work is all about layers, meaning and recognition. “We grew up doing copy and paste, and in a way, that’s what I do too,” to the point of using song titles as the titles of his works. “I present the film of my life through my art.
The two Past, Present, Pause. and The era of spin are at the Contemporary Art Gallery in Stroud, 7869 Yonge Street, until October 2.
The gallery is open to the public, following COVID protocols which include wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance. No more than five visitors are allowed to enter the gallery at a time.
To book a tour, email [email protected] or call 705-431-4044. The gallery is open on Wednesdays. to Sat, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, click here.
There has not been a “Grand Opening” of the current exhibitions, but there will be a “Grand Closure” on October 2, from noon to 5 pm, when the artists will be available to speak with the public about their work. Weather permitting, refreshments will be served outside on the terrace. Watch the details.
Past, Present, Pause. and The era of spin were sponsored by Davidson’s Country Dining in Innisfil.