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East Coast
Anna Taylor
The Magic Project at Alteregos Cafe
April 26, 2017

Kate MacDonald and Emma Paulson’s collaborative work as The Magic Project may happen largely in a time and space beyond the walls of galleries, but for the month of April their photos are lighting up Alteregos Café on Gottingen Street. The Magic Project Presents: A Collection of Photography is a portrait of their intersecting queer and Black communities in Halifax. The duo have brought together photographers like Joy Tagboto, Chudi Harris, and Helena Darling to document folks in large groups, pairs embracing, and solo portraits that beam out from the back wall over the crowd of coffee drinkers chattering across to one another from their separate tables.

Joy Tagboto, from series Black Girls are Magic

Alteregos is usually a café and hostel, but at night it turns into a dance space hosting some of the warmest and most welcoming parties in the neighbourhood. This was an important factor in choosing the venue for this exhibition. In a city rife with racial and class issues, it is one of very few businesses that has actively sought to integrate itself into the communities of the north end since opening up decades ago.

Sunshine beams in the big windows and onto the multitude of photographs exhibited salon-style that reach up to the ceiling. Some are large, glossy prints, some are as small as Polaroids, but all are beautifully shot portraits that encapsulate the style and strength of their subjects.

Paulson and MacDonald reinforce the integrity of marginalized communities in Halifax by presenting them in photographs and sharing the images as widely as possible. Starting with a photo shoot of Black women and femmes, they worked with their photographers and models to showcase a strong front of solidarity and visibility. The result, Black Girls are Magic, was inspired by a desire to fight the feeling of being squashed further into the fear brought on last year by Trump and his long cast shadow. Since then the duo have continued to organize photo shoots, open discussions, and dance performances aiming to amplify the presence of people of color and queers on the front lines of radical existence in Nova Scotia.

Alteregos Café:
The Magic Project Presents: A Collection of Photography continues until April 30.

Anna Taylor is an artist, crafter, and organizer sitting on the board of the Halifax Crafters Society. She is Akimblog’s Halifax correspondent and can be followed on Twitter @TaylorMadeGoods.



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