Pamila Matharu: What Haven’t We Learnt Yet, Still?

September 5 – December 5, 2020
Durham Art Gallery

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Invited To The Party, But Never Asked To Dance (Grrrls, Grrrls, Grrrls) 2019.
Purple coloured neon text, dimensions variable, A/P, edition of 3.

What Haven’t We Learnt Yet, Still? curated by Jaclyn Quaresma, is a new solo exhibition by Toronto-based artist, Pamila Matharu, at Durham Art Gallery. Comprised of seven constellations of over 40 works and collected objects, the artist explores how we reconsider familiar notions of our past to contemplate our worldview while existing on Turtle Island.

In this iteration of the recent award-winning 2019 installation One of These Things is Not Like the Other at A Space Gallery (Toronto), Matharu explores feminist (sub) cultural resistance through institutional critique, decolonial aesthetics, counter-hegemonic exhibition-making, and collecting-as-medium through her new and recent collage, photography and collected objects.

Since the arrival of members of the Panjabi-Sikh community 117 years ago in 1903, not much historical evidence exists in the public consciousness outside of stereotypical tropes or within Canadian art history altogether. What Haven’t We Learnt Yet, Still? thus examines the relationship (or non-relationship) and lived-experience of the artist as a recorder of art history.

A commissioned companion text by writer Sarah-Tai Black, What Haven’t They Learnt Yet, Still? accompanies the exhibition. Black’s personal essay becomes a space for intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue and names Matharu’s adjacencies to Black feminist cultural production that helped establish her as an emerging artist in the early 1990s.

What Haven’t We Learnt Yet, Still? Is the host site for Durham Art Gallery’s first annual literary and visual arts festival, Rural Reading Riot (RRR). Taking place online over three days, from October 23-25, RRR combines performance, spoken, written and visual practices of artists and writers. While generated in so-called rural Ontario, RRR seeks to connect and reach beyond rural boundaries, gathering and sharing through riotous collectivity, radical care and collaboration.

Pamila Matharu (b. 1973, Birmingham, England) is an immigrant-settler of Panjabi descent, Pamila primarily practices in visual arts (collage, installation, new media, social practice), arts education, and arts advocacy. A graduate of the Visual Arts and the Fine Arts B.Ed programs from York University, recently she was awarded the 2019 Images Festival Homebrew Award for her critically acclaimed first solo exhibition One of These Things Is Not Like The Other at A Space Gallery, Toronto and the Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ Best Exhibit Award (2019). Matharu lives and works in Toronto, Canada.

Sarah-Tai Black is a film programmer, arts curator, writer, and speaker living in Toronto. She is one of the Directors at The Royal Cinema where she programs a monthly series called Black Gold. Her writing has been published by numerous outlets, including The Globe and Mail, Cinema Scope, MUBI Notebook, CBC Arts, TIFF’s The Review, and cléo journal, and alongside several artist projects. In collaboration with institutions such as Museum of Contemporary Art and A Space Gallery, she has curated performance pieces by artists Lido Pimienta and Aisha Sasha John, a solo show by multidisciplinary artist Timothy Yanick Hunter, and has spoken about arts culture, film, and moving image arts in their many forms as a guest of the National Gallery of Canada and The Walrus, as well as with platforms such as Canadian Art, Screen International, and Huffington Post.

Durham Art Gallery rests on the traditional land of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation, which is represented by the communities of Saugeen First Nation and Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation. We thank them. We also thank of the Métis Nation of Ontario, whose history and people are well represented in what are now Bruce and Grey Counties. Durham Art Gallery is a non-profit, exhibition-driven space for contemporary art and visual culture in so-called West Grey, Ontario. From our earliest incarnation in the a Carnegie library to our current purpose-built home, the Gallery’s evolution is marked by an engaged community and a diversifying landscape.

Durham Art Gallery
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