Join us for the opening reception, Thursday, May 16 from 7 – 9 pm. Artists will be in attendance.
In their collaborative photography series Wanted and the video installation Family Matters, multidisciplinary artists Pirbhai and Turner work with archival materials to unearth an overwhelmingly ignored part of Canadian history and pay homage to the individuals forgotten as a part of this erasure. The realities of transatlantic slavery in Canada are revealed through advertisements placed by Canadian slave owners in 18th century newspapers. These ads offer rewards for the return of people who had escaped from bondage and for the sale of people who were held as property, shedding light on a part of our national history rarely acknowledged. The performances captured in the photographs and the video work of about these previously overlooked individuals defy the boundaries of time and tell new stories that traverse the past, present and future.
In the Wanted series, the artists transform the descriptive texts of what the freedom seekers were last seen wearing into contemporary fashion ads that celebrate and represent these individuals as self-empowered and utterly free. In Family Matters, we bear witness to the time-travelling Peggy Pompadour and her son Jupiter reflecting on the past and contemplating what the future may hold. Inspired by an advertisement offering an enslaved mother and son for sale in 1806, the two protagonists' stirring conversation simultaneously reinforces the weight of this history and the resilience of the individuals who were enslaved. These works aim to remind us how essential it is to question and re-frame the constructed national narratives of this country in order to build a better, more inclusive future.
Elisa Coish, Curator
Image: Detail, Charles from the Wanted series, 2016.