The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven: Program #2


Red Lips [Cages for Black Girls], kyisha williams, 2010


The Curatorial Incubator, v.17: On the Other Side – It’s Heaven

Program #2 – A world of our own:
creating Black queer utopias
creating languages and building communities

Curated by Mahlet Cuff

This fall, Vtape will present four programs developed by the 2021 Curatorial Incubator Incubatees after an extensive research phase where each of them viewed scores of potential titles to exhibit within their curatorial premise. Each program begins with a live introduction by the emerging curator or collective, followed by all the titles in their program, and ending with a live conversation between the emerging curator/collective and the artists in their program.

Please join us for these dynamic LIVE ON-LINE events. Each program is presented on a Thursday at 7PM ET and will continue to be available on the vtape website for the following three weeks until the next program rolls out.

On Thursday September 30, 2021, @7pm ET, Mahlet Cuff will do a short introduction, followed by all 4 titles in her program, ending in a LIVE conversation with some of the artists in her program, kyisha williams and Natalie Wood.

Mahlet Cuff has written about her program:

“The COVID 19 pandemic has altered the way we interact with one another. Being isolated has shifted our thinking. The ability to recreate, mold and transform how we are with one another is a way toward creating our own uptopias, sanctuaries where we can express intimacy and jubilation, care for one another and lift each other up in times of stress, trauma and hardship. Despite the challenges, Black queer communities are thriving and finding solutions for escaping the cis heteronormative culture of the Prairies.

“This collection of documentary and experimental films and videos shows how Black queer communities come together to carve out utopian spaces. By exploring contemporary Black queer culture and the themes of affection, resistance and joy, the programs responds to the overarching question: “How are we creating our own heaven when it isn’t accessible to us?

“Each of the films in this program can stand on their own as a marker of what and how Black queer identities manifest by forming community. It can be through friendship and first impressions as in Abdi Osman’s film. Or via the analysis of Black queer bodies, how they are often put at risk and how they can be there for one another to feel celebrated, as kyisha williams reveals. Natalie Wood shows us through movement and dance, and Ayo Tsalithaba in the power of language. All these films have the common message that, despite the barriers, Black queer people are able to create their own utopias. Black queer people are refusing all the things stacked against them and are not giving up. They are making their own spaces and bringing their own communities together.”

A world of our own; creating Black queer utopias
Curated by Mahlet Cuff

1. Abdi Osman
Black Queer Affection (Tryptich), 2013, 16:02
This triptych documents the memories of a Black gay man and a Black trans woman. Three videos combined to form a single work. It describes the deep affection they hold for one another.

2. kyisha williams
Red Lips [Cages for Black Girls], 2010, 18:02
This mixed media documentary explores the stories of Black, radicalized, queer, trans, and incarcerated folks, and their relationship to the prison industrial complex. It communicates the hardship amongst these communities, at the same time finding ways in which they are able to thrive.

3. Natalie Wood
Time Will Come, 2018, 06:00
With dance, movement and metaphor, this experimental film shows the ways it can be hard to find joy but throughout the loss, trauma, and pain, the narrator continues to find softness and rest.

4. Ayo Tsalithaba
A Kiki with Bobby Bowen, 2018, 05:54
A young queer man named Bobby Bowen takes the audience on a journey of learning key terms that originated within queer Black and POC communities.


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Our offices are closed now due to Covid-19.

Vtape acknowledges the generous support of all of our funders including The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.

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