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Quentin VerCetty, Water No Get Enemy 3017, 2017, computer generated image. Courtesy of the artist
Wednesday 25 October 2017
11 am–8 pm

Blackface, or the act of darkening one’s skin in an attempt to impersonate Black people, is an act that continues to persist in Canada—a large proportion of contemporary Canadian blackface incidents occur on university campuses. The Arts Against PostRacialism, a SSHRC-funded knowledge mobilization initiative led by Dr Philip Howard and curated by lead artist Camille Turner, seeks to contribute to challenging blackface on Canadian campuses by: building capacity for critique and spaces of healing for those negatively impacted by blackface; creating intra- and inter-campus networks between campus organizations interested in challenging blackface; and raising the level of critical dialogue about blackface.

The Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s spaces will be transformed on Wednesday 25 October with video and sculpture installations, workshops, and participatory performances, followed by a keynote address by Dr Philip Howard and an Arts Against PostRacialism artist talkback in the Agnes Atrium. AAPR artists include Camille Turner, Nadine Valcin, Esmaa Mahomoud, Quentin VerCetty, and Anique Jordan.

Nadine Valcin’s slow motion double-projection video, Emergence welcomes visitors into the Agnes and begins the conversation around The Arts Against PostRacialism through its re-assertion of the beauty and resilience of Blackness, in all its diversity. Esmaa Mahomoud’s sculpture installation, Unwearable (Defence/Offence), carries forward this act of making black presence visible on campus. The work can be witnessed in the Union Gallery’s main space. Consisting of 12 black, back-to-back masks stationed in a straight line, this piece disallows and refuses the act of blackface through its unwearable function.

A sonic guide audio loop beckons visitors into the David McTavish Art Study Room where the Afronauts have taken over to make contact with the past, present and future in Camille Turner’s Afronautic Research Lab. Participants become citizen researchers in the dark reading room where primary archival materials such as 18th century Canadian newspapers containing ads posted by Canadian slave owners can be contemplated using flash lights and magnifying glasses. This site becomes transformed once again and enlivened through Anique Jordan’s participatory performance, Scream Café, where visitors are invited to embody and witness acts of audible or silent screaming. Here, the body becomes the site and action which shapes the performance’s environment—inciting guttural voices or silences as embodied modes of intervention.

Quentin VerCetty invites visitors to participate in the Future Memories workshop in the André Biéler Studio, as inspired by his Think Tomorrow installation which envisions blackface as an obsolete manifestation of anti-black racism of a bygone era. Participants will dialogue around blackface and its eradication: should it be remembered and taught in schools or removed from history? Should it be harshly criminalized post-eradication? What possible impacts could this have on different populations and what would this mean for universal social justice? Documents of these conversations will be placed into a time-capsule to be buried on campus grounds.

Schedule of events

Emergence
Video Installation
Nadine Valcin
11 am–8 pm
Location: The Agnes—Atrium

Think Tomorrow
Sculpture Installation
Quentin VerCetty
11 am–8 pm
Location: The Agnes—André Biéler Studio

Unwearable
Sculpture Installation
Esmaa Mohamoud
11 am–8 pm
Location: The Agnes—Atrium

Afronautic Research Lab
Performance Installation
Camille Turner [Curator/Lead Artist]
12–2 pm
Location: The Agnes—David McTavish Room

Scream Cafe
Performance Installation
Anique Jordan
3–4:45 pm
Location: The Agnes—Etherington House

Future Memories Workshop
Quentin VerCetty
2–3:30 pm
Location: The Agnes—André Biéler Studio

Keynote–Hide and See
Philip S.S. Howard [Project Lead/Principal Investigator]
5:30–6:30 pm
Location: The Agnes—Atrium

Artist Talkback
AAPR Team
6:30–8 pm
Location: The Agnes—Atrium

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@AAPRresist
www.mcgill.ca/aapr
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