Movers and Makers
Addressing Black subjectivity through artistic strategies of photographic experimentation and materiality, Movers and Makers speaks to the present moment and a desired future of Black optimism. Toronto-based artists Aaron Jones, Christina Leslie, Dainesha Nugent-Palache, and Bidemi Oloyede use photo-collage, pinhole portraits, and other visual strategies to re-frame the process and making of photographic artworks.
While the past year has had a devastating impact on many people, it has been especially hard for those of the Black diaspora, as the two overlapping catastrophes of a global pandemic and anti-Black racism have taken a profound toll. Movers and Makers is a visually enlivened and responsive exhibition that has evolved from Movers and Shakers, a group exhibition held at Prefix ICA in 2018 of Toronto-based artists. This precursor critically examined the changing possibilities of the character of the camera in still and moving images. While continuing to provide much needed presentation for local artists, Movers and Makers critically shifts toward Black artists who experiment with photography’s material aspects while being informed by the overwhelming reality of being an artist in Toronto now.
Aaron Jones uses collage to express his perspectives on art and contemporary culture in relation to his evolving sense of self. His techniques of constructing, deconstructing, and recreating with paper-on-paper create works that are multilayered in visual and experiential meaning. His most recent work plays with the visual language of abstraction, while emphasizing the presence and power of the human body.
Christina Leslie works with historical photographic methods in an artistic response to digital dominance in photography. Influenced by art historical research and responding to the colonial gaze, she produces intimate and formal pinhole portraits of family and friends. These portraits express the beauty and humanity of those who are often overlooked.
Dainesha Nugent-Palache experiments with colour, light, and domestic space to create still lives that depict the real and the unreal qualities of comfort and alienation. Her evocative images pay homage to her family and her ancestors as she uses objects to share narratives of belonging and separation.
Bidemi Oloyede uses analogue black-and-white photography to explore his position as an observer and a participant in documenting public space. His images capture the collective energy of the 2020 social justice protests, which demanded an end to anti-Black racism and pleaded for a more peaceful and equitable future.
Together, the four artists in Movers and Makers open up the possibilities of thinking about what a photograph has become as an art object in the 21st century. They reimagine the aesthetic use of black-and-white photography, push the signifying power of colour photography, and expand on traditional approaches to portraiture to challenge some of the aesthetic, conceptual, and theoretical working assumptions of lens-based artistic creation.
Curated by Betty Julian