Doris McCarthy Gallery ⁠ accessible_forward
1265 Military Trail
University of Toronto Scarborough
Sep 15–Dec 10,  2022
  • Joi T. Arcand
  • Alyssa Bistonath
  • Janice Chung
  • Chantal Gibson
  • Caroline Monnet
  • Howardena Pindell
  • Dima Srouji
  • Shellie Zhang
    Howardena Pindell, Free, White and 21, 1980. Video (colour, sound). Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

In the past few years, nostalgia has made a comeback. Not just in the form of flared denim, Barbiecore, or oversized shades, but in the political climate, media, and legislation. Unlike the expected rose-coloured idealism, this resurgence is of insidious proportions. It whispers sweet nothings to a white base fearful of globalization, with slogans such as “We want our country back” and “Make America Great Again.” It touts The Great Replacement and asks its followers to “…stand up for the values that make this country great” while threatening to screen potential Black and brown immigrants for “Canadian values.” This sentimentality is not inclusive. It is a stark reminder of the complexities involved in BIPOC nostalgia, one consistently interrupted by terror, inequality, disposability, fear, and aggression. 

Eschewing whitewashed notions of sanguine sentimentalism as portrayed by a dominant hierarchy, this exhibition explores the aspirations, resistance, and heartbreak of marginalized communities within the context of systemic racism, xenophobia, and oppression. Presented both in the gallery and as an online exhibition (which will be launched September 29), NOSTALGIA INTERRUPTED highlights the reminiscence and perseverance of BIPOC communities through lens-based media, text, and installation while offering space for marginalized communities to share the memories, heritage, and experiences that shape their realities. This is vital not for explanation or debate—for the marginalized need not justify their presence—but for reclamation and resistance.

NOSTALGIA INTERRUPTED is a hybrid presentation, with a digital exhibition designed by Aegis featuring works by Joi T. Arcand, Alyssa Bistonath, Janice Chung, Chantal Gibson, Caroline Monnet, Howardena Pindell, Dima Srouji, and Shellie Zhang, and an onsite exhibition at Doris McCarthy Gallery presenting works by Gibson, Monnet, Pindell, Srouji, and Zhang.

Curated by Ingrid Jones

Presented by Doris McCarthy Gallery in partnership with CONTACT. Digital exhibition designed by and produced in partnership with Aegis

Joi T. Arcand is an artist from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory, currently residing in Ottawa, Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005. In 2018, Arcand was shortlisted for the prestigious Sobey Art Award. Her practice includes photography, digital collage, and graphic design and is characterized by a visionary and subversive reclamation and indigenization of public spaces through the use of Cree language and syllabics. In her recent work with neon signs, Arcand connects to her complex relationship with the language by making it highly visible to the general public. Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, including Àbadakone at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa, ON) and INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  

Alyssa Bistonath is a filmmaker and photographer living in Toronto. She focuses on themes of memory and belonging. Bistonath, the daughter of Guyanese immigrants, endeavours to look at modes of representation by investigating nostalgia, exploring evidence, and interrupting the archive. Most recently, she was featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art in the Spotlight and in Canadian Art for her series Isolation Photographs. Her work includes Portals (2018), a video installation commissioned by the City of Toronto for Nuit Blanche, and the documentary Why We Fight (2016), which won Best Canadian Short at the Regent Park Film Festival. Bistonath has her Masters of Fine Arts and teaches at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Janice Chung is a Korean American photographer born and raised in Queens, New York City. Through her work, Chung amplifies and deconstructs her Korean American heritage by capturing moments that are deeply personal. In doing so, she sheds light on the intricate details of immigrant and diasporic life while straddling the two places she calls home, New York and South Korea. Chung’s work has been featured in publications such as New York Magazine‘s The CutVogue, and Booooooom. Select clients include The New York Times and New York Magazine.

Chantal Gibson is an award-winning writer-artist-educator living on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Peoples. Working in the overlap between literary and visual art, her work confronts colonialism head on, imagining the BIPOC voices silenced in the spaces and omissions left by cultural and institutional erasure. Her visual art has been exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Open Space (Victoria, BC), the MacKenzie Art Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Museum of Anthropology and the Senate of Canada. Gibson’s debut book of poetry, How She Read (Caitlin Press, 2019), won the 2020 Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry by a Canadian woman and the 2020 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for best book in BC, and was shortlisted for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize. Her follow-up collection, with/holding (Caitlin Press, 2021), was named one of CBC’s Best Books of 2021.

Caroline Monnet (Anishinaabe/French) is a multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais, Quebec. At the heart of her practice is the communication of complex ideas about Aboriginal identity and bicultural life through the examination of cultural histories. Her works combine the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction to create unique hybrid forms. She studied Sociology and Communication at the University of Ottawa (Canada) and the University of Granada (Spain) before pursuing a career in visual arts and film. Her work has been programmed internationally at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Whitney Biennial (NYC), Toronto Biennale of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (Montréal), Arsenal Contemporary (NYC), Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff), and the National Art Gallery (Ottawa).

Howardena Pindell (b. Philadelphia, 1943) studied painting at Boston University and Yale University. After graduating, she accepted a job at the Museum of Modern Art, where she worked for 12 years (1967–79), first as Exhibition Assistant, then as Assistant Curator in the Department of National and International Traveling Exhibitions, and finally as an Associate Curator and Acting Director in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books.  In 1979, she began teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook where she is now a Distinguished Professor. Pindell’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums internationally, including: Brooklyn Museum of Art; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.

Dima Srouji is an architect and visual artist exploring the ground as a deep space of rich cultural weight. Srouji looks for potential ruptures in the ground where imaginary liberation is possible. She works with glass, text, archives, maps, plaster casts, and film, understanding each as an evocative object and emotional companion that help her question what cultural heritage and public space mean in the context of the Middle East. Her projects are developed closely with archaeologists, anthropologists, sound designers, and glassblowers. Srouji is currently the Jameel Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum and leading the MA City Design studio at the Royal College of Art in London.

Shellie Zhang is a multidisciplinary artist based in Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. By uniting both past and present iconography with the techniques of mass communication, language and sign, Zhang explores the contexts and construction of a multicultural society by disassembling approaches to tradition, gender, the diaspora and popular culture. She creates images, objects and projects in a wide range of media to explore how integration, diversity and assimilation is implemented and negotiated, and how manifestations of these ideas relate to lived experiences. Zhang is interested in how culture is learned and sustained, and how the objects and iconographies of culture are remembered and preserved. Zhang has exhibited at venues including WORKJAM (Beijing), Asian Art Initiative (Philadelphia) and Gallery 44 (Toronto).