Art Exhibit: 28 Days Explores Black History
27 February 2012 No Comments
A Toronto art exhibit brings together a mix of multi-dimensional Canadian and International artists to creatively explore the meaning of Black History Month.
By Anya Wassenberg
Striking in its diversity of medium and mode, the art exhibit 28 Days: Reimagining Black History Month, offers a broad spectrum of contemporary visual art from Canadian and international artists.
Radcliffe Bailey’s Black Ark, a shimmering black model boat, plays with dual notions of the iconography of black history. The ship serves as both a symbol of the forced Atlantic crossing of slaves and the Ark as a means of surviving the storm. This piece, located near the entrance of the Georgia Scherman Projects gallery in Toronto, sets the tone for the show’s multi-dimensional, multi-media approach.
Many of the works in the show use historical and traditional imagery. Jamestown Masquerade, a 2006 video by London-based Ghanaian artist Godfried Donkor, features masked revellers in Victorian garb. Canadian artist Stephen Fakiyesi’s Kings and Queens is a partial house of cards that leans perilously against the gallery wall. The cards feature African royalty and African-inspired geometric designs on the back. Sometimes, the reference to history is more oblique, as in Dance of Belem, a video triptych by artist Sonia Boyce. In the video dancer Vania Gala dances in public places in Belem, Portugal to draw attention to that country’s often ignored history in the slave trade.
The 1996 animated video Go West Young Man by British artist Keith Piper, a member of the BLK Art Group, is considered a classic. In it a father and son talk about the stereotypes they face as black men in spoken word narration over chanting and drums and a flow of imagery. The title itself (I first heard that joke 400 years ago – I died laughing) is part of the message.
Curated by Pamela Edmonds and Sally Frater, and presented by Third Space Art Projects, the 28 Days exhibit at the Georgia Scherman Projects gallery also features works by Sandra Brewster, Delio Delgado, Rob Pruitt, Dionne Simpson, Mickalene Thomas and Nari Ward and runs until February 29.