Setting a Tone: Pamila Matharu, Makeda Silvera, & Andrea Fatona, with respondent Faith Paré

Online conversation as part of the speaker series Desire Lines presented by the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) in coordination with Artexte and Spoken Web

Curated by Felicity Tayler and Michael Maranda, with assistance from Faith Paré
Friday, March 26, 2021 @ 2 – 3:30 pm EDT

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Intergenerational mentoring is a central experience of cultural transmission; within publishing networks we can sense a print-based trace of Black feminist sensations of belonging. Magazines of the 1980s, such as Fireweed and Tiger Lily, offer a view into activist spaces where gaining access to print was a means to rewrite the terms of racialization and socioeconomic oppression. This panel will conjure personal memories around institutions such as Sister Vision Press and Fresh Arts as crucibles for cultural production in Toronto.

To register for this panel, please visit: http://agyu.art/project/setting-a-tone

Presenter Bios:

Andrea Fatona is an independent curator and an associate professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University. Dr. Fatona was recently named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in the Centre for the Study of Black Canadian Diaspora at OCAD University. She is the driving force behind The State of Blackness: From production to presentation website, which began as an archive of the activities of a 2014 conference of the same name. The site also serves as a repository for information about ongoing research geared toward making visible the artistic production and dissemination of works by Black Canadian cultural producers.

She is concerned with issues of equity within the sphere of the arts and the pedagogical possibilities of art works produced by Black Canadians in articulating broader perspectives of Canadian identities. Her broader interest is in the ways in which art, “culture”, and “education” can be employed to illuminate complex issues that pertain to social justice, citizenship, belonging, and nationhood.

Pamila Matharu is a settler of northern Indian Panjabi descent, born in Birmingham, England, and based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). A graduate of the Visual Arts and Fine Arts BEd programs at York University, she works primarily in visual arts, alternative education, and cultural production.

A recipient of TAC, OAC, and CCA creation/production grants, she has screened and exhibited her work locally, regionally, and nationally. Recently she was awarded the CONTACT Photo Festival’s 2020 Burtynsky Photobook Award, the 2019 Images Festival Homebrew Award, and the 2019 Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ Exhibition of the Year award for her critically acclaimed first solo exhibit One of These Things is Not Like the Other at A Space Gallery, Toronto (2019).

She’s been a volunteer Board member for CARFAC Ontario, Gallery 44, Toronto Artscape, Images Festival, and SAVAC. Currently in research and development is Where Were You in ’92?, a new project slated to debut in October 2021 at the Archives of Ontario, by invitation from Archive/Counter-Archive, iterations of which will continue to unfold at Or Gallery (Vancouver, BC), and Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, ON) through 2022.

Emigrating to Canada from Jamaica as a child, Makeda Silvera currently makes Toronto her home. In 1985, in response to a lack of publishing venues for women of colour, she co-founded Sister Vision Press (active until 2001). The Press was particularly known for publishing oral histories of ordinary women omitted from traditional history and contemporary writing. As author, editor, and activist, Makeda has published collections of short stories (Remembering G, 1990; Her Head a Village, 1994), novels (The Revenge of Maria, 1998; The Heart Does Not Bend, 2002), collected interviews (Silenced: Caribbean Domestic Workers Talk With Makeda Silvera, 1989), and ground-breaking anthologies, most notably Piece of My Heart, 1991, the first North American anthology of literature by lesbians of colour.

Respondent:

Faith Paré is a poet and performer of Afro-Guyanese and Québécois ancestries. Her writing has previously appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, GUTS, and Shameless Magazine, and is forthcoming in Carnation. She is a proud alum of Our Bodies, Our Stories, a mentorship for emerging artists who are queer and trans BIPOC led by Kama La Mackerel, and was the recipient of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s 2020 Mairuth Sarsfield Mentorship under the guidance of Dr. Gillian Sze. She is a co-founder of VOLTA Collective with Meredith Marty-Dugas and Paige Keleher, addressing anti-carceral action and transformative justice through creative intervention. Find her @paretriarchy.

About the Desire Lines series:

The trajectory of arts magazine publishing in Toronto from the 1970s onward has always been a space criss-crossed by lines of desire. This speaker series takes an algorithmically produced network diagram of publishing metadata as a jumping off point for story-telling around personal memories.

This series is organized by Felicity Tayler, Interim Head, Research Support (Arts and Special Collections) at the University of Ottawa Library and Michael Maranda, assistant curator. New generation respondents are curated by Faith Paré, made possible by an RA-ship from the SpokenWeb partnership. The background to the series comes out of a metadata analysis of three magazines from the seventies and eighties, Fuse, Border/Lines, and Fireweed, that Felicity put together with Tomasz Neugebauer of Concordia University.

Video recordings of the series, transcripts of the speakers’ voices, and commissioned responses by the new generation writers will be published online, inscribing their depositions into the archives of local art histories. The series is functioning as a prequel of sorts for the physical exhibition Lignes de désire // Desire Lines: Displaced Narratives of Place, to be held at Artexte in Montreal. Because the exhibition is in perpetual pandemic delay, this speaker series will work as an engagement in the present, which simultaneously acknowledges a continual deferral.

For more on the series, please visit: http://agyu.art/project/desire-lines

Partners:

Artexte is supporting this series through research services and access to the physical and digital collection. Felicity Tayler’s investigation into the social, political, and geographical spaces of Canadian magazine publishing in the seventies and eighties charts new territories of knowledge within and around Artexte’s holdings. SpokenWeb has made the participation of Faith Paré possible, as well as provided necessary inspiration and methodological guidance in the process of putting this series together. We at the Gallery are grateful for the contributions of both of these institutions.

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The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a public, university-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and by its membership.

In recognition of our place on the traditional territory of numerous Indigenous Nations, the Art Gallery of York University thanks the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabek who have and continue to care for this land. This land is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Covenant and Wampum between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Three Fires Confederacy (the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi), and other allied nations in an agreement to share land and its resources. We occupy land referred to in Crown Treaty 13, known as the Toronto Purchase, signed in 1805. Terms of this Treaty were not met by Canada until 2010, when the Federal Government settled the claims of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.

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For press inquiries, please contact Michael Maranda, assistant curator, via mmarand@yorku.ca