By Sarah Linders, Senior Communications Officer
The Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Union Gallery will be transformed on Wednesday, Oct. 25 for a day-long series of installations, workshops and participatory performances to challenge acts of anti-blackness on Canadian university campuses and provide a space for healing and community.
The SSHRC-funded Arts Against PostRacialism project tackles the challenges faced by black communities due to acts of anti-blackness, and offers a diverse group of artists the chance to contribute to a larger conversation about postracialist sentiment in Canada.
The project’s eight events, spanning from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., feature projects including; video and sculpture installations, the Afronautics research lab, workshops, interactive activities, keynote speech, talkback session, and panel discussion.
“We are excited that the Arts Against PostRacialism partners chose Queen’s as one of the stops on its cross-university tour,” says Stephanie Simpson, Director of the Human Rights Office at Queen’s. “The timing for this is perfect, given the recently released report and recommendations from our own Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (PICRDI). The exhibitions and lecture will provide an excellent opportunity for us to continue discussion around the creation of racially just and inclusive institutional climates.”
Philip Howard, the keynote speaker of the event and assistant professor at McGill University, researches critical race pedagogies in Canadian culture. He sees the project as the perfect format to respond to expressions of anti-blackness, such as blackface.
“The installations and events involved in this project are meant to evoke a response and to assert blackness in new ways in university campuses, where they’re often excluded,” says Dr. Howard. “It’s a call upon people to make the connections that are often hidden between this practice of blackface and other structural practice of anti-blackness that surround us.”
Artists featured include Camille Turner, Nadine Valcin, Esmaa Mahomoud, Quentin VerCetty, and Anique Jordan. Many of these artists have created immersive experiences that will transform The Agnes and the Union Gallery into conversation pieces in their own right.
“As I was working on this research, it occurred to me that blackface is quite performative, and visually evocative, and a resistance response to it would be to be similarly evocative and visual,” explains Dr. Howard. “Our focus in this project has been strengthening the communities affected by blackface, and similar expressions of anti-blackness that still occur on university campuses.”
Make sure to check out the project’s eight events and installations at The Agnes and the Union Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Image: Quentin VerCetty’s Future Memories workshop in the André Biéler Studio begins, part of a conversation around The Arts Against PostRacialism. Photo: Garrett Elliott