I am a Black, Toronto-based, media artist and storyteller, I completed a Master of Fine Art in the Digital Futures program at OCAD University. For the past twenty years, I have been creating linear media projects exploring the Black experience in Canada and have recently started engaging with virtual reality through the development of Ghost of Remembrance, a prototype for an experience about the forgotten history of slavery in our country.
Emergence | 6 minutes | 4K | 2017
Described Video below
Emergence is a silent 2-channel video installation commissioned by artist/curator Camille Turner and McGill University professor Philip Howard for the project The Arts Against PostRacialism: Strengthening Resistance Against Contemporary Canadian Blackface Blackface (AARP), a SSHRC-funded knowledge mobilization initiative. It seeks to illustrate in a visceral way the violence that the practice Blackface imposes on the Black body.
The piece starts with extreme close-ups of faces and hands pressed against a glass barrier that at once distorts them, alluding to the constraining conditions that trap Black bodies in stereotypes as well as their struggle to break free. They represent the violent and reductive nature of contemporary Canadian blackface, its toxic impact on the Black psyche and the constant efforts required to combat daily racism. These images are contrasted with more serene close-ups of the models, positing the face as a signifying landscape and reasserting the beauty of Blackness.
As much as the models are trapped behind the glass, the viewer is also confined to the outside watching two figures seemingly trying to escape and potentially feeling the weight and constrictive nature of racism. The pace of the images is deliberately slow to force the visitor to engage in an act of active viewing. The close-ups, shot in 4K, show every pore, hair, texture in incredible detail allowing for an intricate examination that isn’t possible in daily life. The scale of the projection acts as an amplifier of the close-ups, creating a visceral rather than simply intellectual reaction.