Mounted Metro police officers and others on foot confront a crowd downtown on May 4, 1992, to quell vandalism and looting. Photo: John Mahler, The Toronto Star, 4 May 1992
Pamila Matharu:
Where Were You in ‘92?
30 July –4 December 2022
Davies Foundation Gallery

Touring Exhibition
OPTICA, A Centre for Contemporary Art, Montreal
21 January–18 March 2023

Curated by Emelie Chhangur, Nasrin Himada and Charlotte Gagnier

Through experimentation with sound, image, found texts and acts of counter-archiving of personal and political experiences, Where Were You in ‘92? brings forth the embodied archives of the ground-breaking legacy of Fresh Arts, a Black artist-led program that was born out of the fury of impassioned youth. Pamila Matharu, one of the mentees of Fresh Arts, returns not only to this pivotal moment but also to her mentor, Winsom Winsom, who’s more than decade-long activist history in Kingston ON is under-recognized. This research project begins with the basic premise that archives are manifested in living bodies, in repeated stories, in unfinished conversations, sparked by events of the past that persist into the present, and, importantly, in the healing practices of intergenerational connectivity. Interested in forms of feminist genealogies that cite what came before and using the archive as a forum for recognition, resilience and radical love, Matharu looks back to Toronto’s 1992 youth-led uprising on Yonge Street that gave rise to Fresh Arts. Where Were You in ‘92? traces new lines of connection across history and geography, drawing in those who inherit its legacy and holding up those who mobilized its centrifugal forces. A series of public and education programming is presented as an integral component of this exhibition.

This exhibition is in collaboration with Ashley T., Cecilia Berkovic and Zoë Alexis-Abrams.

Image: Mounted Metro police officers and others on foot confront a crowd downtown on May 4, 1992, to quell vandalism and looting. Photo: John Mahler, The Toronto Star, 4 May 1992


As a young, Black Biracial, Bisexual Woman with Type II Bipolar Disorder from Toronto, Ashley T. has coined herself as the “Bi-Fecta”. She is a multidisciplinary artist who creates within the realms of abstract visual art, literary art, and performance art. She works with diverse materials spanning from acrylic paints on canvas, to ink on paper, to her voice on the mic, to her body on the stage. She uses art to ground and remind herself of the power she possesses to be a positive change in this world. Each piece she creates is a small chapter of her visual memoire.

Cecilia Berkovic (she/her) is a queer artist and graphic designer living in Toronto (Dish With One Spoon Territory). She has been involved in local artist-run culture, in various capacities, for over 15 years. She is a founding member of feminist working group Emilia-Amalia and holds an MFA from Bard College in New York.

Zoë Margot Alexis-Abrams is an Algonquin-Ardoch Métis-Settler, Interdisciplinary artist and musician based in Toronto (Treaty 13). A self-taught illustrator, Zoë’s work is concerned with mitigating spaces with the language we use in ownership. Her debut pop album ‘What’s Already Here’, will be released in October 2022 by Remains Records.

Pamila Matharu is a settler of Panjabi, Indian descent (Jalandhar City and the Village of Bhanolangha in the district of Kapurthala), born in Birmingham, England, and arrived in Canada in 1976. Based in Tkarón:to (Toronto) – Treaty 13 territory – on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. She holds a BA in Visual Arts, and a Fine Arts B.Ed. from York University. Approaching contemporary art from the position of critical pedagogy and using an interdisciplinary and intersectional feminist lens, Pamila’s work culminates in a broad range of forms including installation art, social practice, and experimental media art. Her 2019 solo exhibition debut One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, presented at A Space Gallery (Toronto), won the 2019 OAAG Award for Best Exhibition and the 2019 Toronto Images Festival Homebrew Award. Her project INDEX (SOME OF ALL PARTS) received the 2020 CONTACT Festival’s Edward Burtynsky Photobook Award. Her forthcoming monograph will launch at Brampton, Ontario’s PAMA (Peel Art Museum and Archives) in May 2023.

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