July 8 – August 13, 2022
OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, July 8, 6-8pm
Anique Jordan, Ashley Jane Lewis, Isabel Okoro, KanikaXx, Kim Ninkuru, Meech Boakye, Oreka James, Zoe Osborne
Curated by Roya DelSol
BLACK_BOX is a hybrid physical / virtual reality exhibition and speculative project that considers archives, art spaces and art making as a means of knowledge transfer and preservation. Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, the human brain — or an artspace built upon principles of Black sovereignty, whose function is to obfuscate Black communities & knowledge from the White gaze.
BLACK_BOX asks in what ways could a Black archive exist – how is the archive generated and cared for? Who does the archive celebrate? In what forms can an archive exist and be embodied – a dance, a garden, a fungal root network, an altar? What stories do these unconventional archives tell about the crises that we as Black people overcame, and how? How can these archives also not just hold knowledge, but exist as spaces of community that facilitate healing? By connecting our physical embodied reality with an imagined, digital world; BLACK_BOX creates a pathway for the viewer to transcend space and time to experience a vessel that attempts to hold space for these questions and imaginations.
BLACK_BOX features work from artists Anique Jordan, Ashley Jane Lewis, Isabel Okoro, Kanika Gordon, Kim Ninkuru, Meech Boakye, and Oreka James; with a virtual space designed by Zoe Osborne; guest writing from digital archivist AFIH; and is curated by Roya DelSol.
Anique Jordan is an award-winning artist, writer and curator whose work looks to answer the question of possibility in everything she creates. Working for over a decade at the crossroad of community economic development and art, Jordan’s practice stems from and returns to the communities that inform it. As an artist, Jordan’s work plays with the foundations of traditional Trinidadian carnival and the theory of hauntology challenging historical narratives and creating, what she calls, impossible images. She works across temporalities bringing historical data towards a contemporary analysis. This work creates space to reinterpret the archives offering a new and speculative vision of the future.
Ashley Jane Lewis is a new media artist, creative technologist and educator focused on bio art, social justice and speculative design. Her artistic practice explores black cultures of the past, present and future through computational and analog mediums including coding, machine learning, data weaving, microorganisms and live performance. Lewis’ work is incubated at Culture Hub and New INC, the New Museum tech arts accelerator in New York. Ashley has taught more than 3500 people how to code and is currently a Tech Writer for p5.js at the Processing Foundation. Listed in the top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, Ashley’s award winning artwork has exhibited in North America and Asia, most notably on the White House website during the Obama presidency. Her practice is tied to science and incorporates organisms like slime mould and food cultures to explore ways of decentralizing humans to imagine collective, multi species survival.
Isabel Okoro (b. 2001 Lagos, Nigeria) is a visual artist currently based in Toronto, ON. She is exploring the interactions between the motherland and the diaspora, and visualising an imagined world, Eternity, as a space to immortalize family, friends, and those she meets along the way. She coined the term normatopia to describe a space which consider the tensions between a harsh reality and a utopia, and chooses to rest and thrive in the humanly achievable sweet spot that exists in the middle. Isabel holds a B.sc. in Neuroscience and Psychology (High Distinction) from the University of Toronto.
KanikaXx (Kanika Gordon) is a multidisciplinary artist creating speculative worlds through which to examine the many expressions of self and the connection to the divine. Using soundscape as a means to travel to the surreal landscapes of the subconscious mind.
Kim Ninkuru is a multimedia artist from Bujumbura, in Burundi, currently residing in Montreal. She uses performance art, installation, video, spoken word and movement to create pieces that give her the chance to explore and express rage, love, desire, beauty, or pain in relation to her own body and mind. Her work heavily questions our preconceived notions of gender, race, sexuality and class. It is grounded in the firm belief that blackness is past, present and future at any given moment.
Oreka James (b. 1991, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) creates paintings and sculptures of portals to alternative realms, in which moments of love, spirituality, the metaphysical and the ephemeral collide. Informed by oralities and folklore, she recalls peoples, places, and stories deeply rooted in their personal life and culture, considering the excavation of histories and futures as a means of wayfinding. Sometimes rendering objects and symbols that hold esoteric knowledge as placeholders for the unknown, James is committed to finding connections between fabricated and literal scapes. James received their BFA in Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design University while studying Furniture Design. She has completed a group residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario and has shown at spaces such as Projet Pangee, Montreal; Efrain Lopez Lopez Project Space, Chicago; Patel Brown Gallery, Toronto; Mercer Union, Toronto; Gallery 44, Toronto; and Margin of Eras Gallery, Toronto; James currently lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Meech Boakye (BA in Visual Studies, University of Toronto) is an artist and writer currently based in “Portland, Oregon”. Their practice is rooted in relationships with floral, fungal, and microbial kin as armatures for learning how to be in community. Material research functions as a formal conduit for remediation from extractive landscapes while relational works attempt to imagine speculative futures embedded in care. Boakye’s works are fed, aged, shared, digesting in stomachs and piles of hot compost; they come into being as bioplastic, coded or are collaboratively written with friends and neural-network AI. Sharing the intimacy of research processes in various states of completion, Boakye attempts to reimagine their relationship with materials, machines, and other living things
Zoe Osborne (Mahogany Design Commune) is a spatial designer from Barbados. Her work has a focus on Caribbean symbolism and narratives with an exploration of homesickness in the Caribbean Diaspora. Zoe has showcased work in Barbados, Dubai, Miami and NYC for exhibitions curated by institutions such as SuperRare. Mahogany Design Commune is a studio that mainly provides digital 3D animations and VR gallery spaces that showcase culture and art through the design and the work being showcased. The studio has a focus on using culture and critical thought to influence design.
Roya DelSol is a Black curator, cultural worker and lens-based artist currently living in T’karonto. She aims for her work in all spheres to centre and uplift the experiences Black, queer, and marginalized peoples. In her curatorial practice, this envisioning takes shape by means of disruption via institutional critique. She sees technology, magic tand ancestral knowledge as not disparate, but interconnected frameworks to inform each other; utilizing the subversive qualities of magical realism in imagining Black futures.