A conversation between Whitney French, Liz Ikiriko, Camille Turner, and Candice Hopkins
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As a curatorial collective leading the 2021 edition of the Toronto Biennial of Art, we are presently generating a lexicon – a shared vocabulary – which will guide our ongoing processes of exhibition-making, programming and learning. “Economy” and “Belief” are two terms within this lexicon and ones being reframed in the present moment, particularly by Black artists, activists and scholars. This moment of historical reckoning is in turn critically repositioning the foundations and structures of art organizations and art histories in Canada and their roots in White supremacy. How are systems of economy and belief being rethought at this moment, when there is a call for the redistribution of wealth away from the structures of oppression? How can these calls reframe our understandings of the economies of art?
A conversation between members of Toronto-based artists, curators and writers and the curatorial team will allow a closer reading of these terms relative to the present social and political and social shifts, reframing how we might imagine Black futures.
Whitney French is a storyteller and a multi-disciplinary artist. Language is her favourite collaborator. Whitney French is the co-founder of the Black queer feminist press Hush Harbour and is the editor of the award-winning anthology Black Writers Matter. Currently, she lives in Toronto, where she works as an editor, an arts educator and community organizer.
Liz Ikiriko is a biracial Nigerian Canadian artist, independent curator, and photo editor. Her work as an educator, maker and mother informs her practice which is focused on African and narratives of the diaspora. She is committed to the creation of embodied experiences that utilize accessible platforms to share moments of vulnerability and care for all of us on the margins. She has worked with the CONTACT Photography Festival, the Contemporary African Photography (CAP) Prize and Wedge Curatorial Projects. Her work has been exhibited nationally and her writing has appeared in Public Journal, MICE Magazine, C Magazine, and Akimbo. She currently teaches in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University.
Camille Turner is an explorer of race, space, home and belonging. Straddling media, social practice and performance art, her work has been presented throughout Canada and internationally. Wanted, a collaboration with Camal Pirbhai, was shown most recently at the Art Gallery of Ontario and uses the trope of fashion to transform 18th century newspaper posts by Canadian slave owners into contemporary fashion ads. Freedom Tours, created collaboratively with Cree-Metis artist Cheryl L’Hirondelle is a national commission for LandMarks 2017/Repères 2017 that consists of participatory, site-specific events that re-imagine and reanimate land and water from Black and Indigenous perspectives. The Afronautic Research Lab is a reading room in which participants encounter buried histories. The Landscape of Forgetting, a walk created collaboratively with Alana Bartol and sonic walks HUSH HARBOUR and The Resistance of Peggy Pompadour evoke sites of Black memory that reimagine the Canadian landscape. Camille is the founder of Outerregion, an Afrofuturist performance group.
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