PROGRAMMING: Ghosts and Matter



Works by Gloria Swain, Fallon Simard, Mariam Magsi, and Aaron Moore // Curated by Karina Iskandarsjah

Co-Presented with Glory Hole Gallery //  Venue: 519 Church St, Glass Lobby Room (1st Floor)

“Haunting is a very particular way of knowing what has happened or is happening. Being haunted draws us affectively, sometimes against our will and always a bit magically, into the structure of feeling of a reality that we come to experience, not as cold knowledge, but as transformative recognition.”

Avery F. Gordon

Ghosts and Matter is a screening of video works that consider the role of haunting as a mode of knowledge and drive for social and personal transformation. Ghosts and Matter frames the confluence movement of time and the ways we interact with what haunts us: trauma, difficult histories, memories. For some, haunting can mean an individual’s experience of tragedy or violence. For others, it can be a matter of severed or silenced ancestral links caused by exile, genocide or erasure through assimilation — a reminder that personal histories are often entwined with intense political subjects. In conjunction with the screening, the artists have provided film stills, drawings, and artefacts that will be exhibited in Glory Hole Gallery from 18 October – 24 November.

Works by Gloria Swain, Fallon Simard, Mariam Magsi and Aaron Moore prompts a reframing of haunting and trauma as a socio-political/psychological state that urges initiatives for healing and connection. The selected works help us address the following questions: How does haunting become an agent of interruption and transformation? What does cultural and intergenerational trauma look and feel like? How can haunting keep our senses open to emergent and unknown forms of belonging, connectivity, intimacy, and the unintentional, indeterminate slippages of coexistence?

CONTENT WARNING: this event presents artworks and discussions that reflect on sensitive topics such as the history of slavery, state violence, death, grief and sexual assault.

Artist Bios:

Gloria Swain is a multidisciplinary Black artist and activist. Her work stimulates an understanding of Black women’s suffrage and survival, mental health and intergenerational trauma. Swain believes in storytelling as an important tool for preserving cultural history, using photography, performance, and painting to express lived experiences of racism, sexism, classism and ageism, as well as connecting with violent, erased, and unwritten histories.

Fallon Simard is an Anishinaabe artist and scholar from Couchiching First Nation from the Grand Council of Treaty #3 Territory. Fallon’s work interrogates state violence and mental health in so far as it is perpetuated on to Indigenous bodies, with a practice comprised of video, sound and animation. He holds a Masters of Art from the Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media, and Design Program from OCAD University.

Mariam Magsi is a Pakistani-Canadian contemporary artist working in photography, performance, video, sound, installation, documentary, poetry and other arts. Magsi holds an MFA from OCAD University in Interdisciplinary Art, Media and Design. Magsi’s practice focuses on cultural research, intersectional feminism, South Asian diaspora, contemporary Islam, gender, sexuality and migration.

Aaron Moore is a Northern Irish born artist whose use of aesthetics aims to toy with viewers preconceived methods of engaging with images. Through presenting gestures, objects and pictures which try to de-concretize our view of reality, he aims to unhinge colonial and imperial modes of understanding. He graduated from OCAD University in 2017 after being awarded the OCADu Photography Medal.

Curator/Moderator Bio:

Karina Iskandarsjah is an Indonesian visual artist and curator from Singapore whose work explores non-dominant histories, hybridity, intersectionality and the experience of geographically displaced individuals. Karina is currently a Programming & Outreach Assistant at Trinity Square Video and part of the small, dedicated team that runs Glory Hole Gallery.

About the Works:

REincarnation: Water Is Life by Gloria Swain

“Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being starts a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. I have frequent dreams about a woman who stares into the bright blue sky and cold blue waters. When she turns her head, I notice she bears a striking resemblance to me. And I wonder if my love and fear of water relates to my unknown unspoken ancestral histories. 

This work questions my own unknown history, my invisible identity due to racism, my questionable relationship to this land as a descendant of stolen Black bodies and whether my dreams are inherited memories. This work inquires whether we have been here before and if we are reincarnations of lost ancestors.”

Land Becomes Ghost by Fallon Simard

In Land Becomes Ghost (2016), screenshots of news articles and protest advertisements about the Site C Dam repeat in a cycle with an anxiety-provoking soundtrack. Television static obscures the images as the title of the work reminds us that lands that people have lived on and made a living working with will soon be a distant memory. Simard’s work is firmly situated within a strong history in Canada of experimental Indigenous video art. Their experimental, politically charged work gets to the heart of issues of Indigenous sovereignty and struggle. (Cuthand, Thirza. Excerpt from Canadian Art.)

I CAN’T BREATHE by Mariam Magsi

“The moment my mother passed away at the hospital, I began to frantically collect all of the objects that surrounded her. Some of these objects were hospital property, such as clothing, oxygen masks, syringes, bandages and tubes. Most of these mundane objects would be considered discarded items, but for me they are deeply symbolic. These found objects hold traces and imprints of my mother’s body.

The 40 days spent at the hospital were traumatic, physically and emotionally taxing and extremely challenging. As the trauma is still fresh, the vivid memories from invasive medical procedures performed on my mother’s body keep playing over and over like a film in my mind. Often, these vivid visits from traumatic memories cause panic attacks and inability to breathe. Unguarded and unprotected by my mother, the first feminist I knew, my own mortality looms in front of me. After all, one of the last things we’ll learn from our parents is how to die.”

Like a Beaten Dog, Shaking as a Shadow Crosses Overhead by Aaron Moore

“In the landscape of moving-image, conversations of trauma, especially sexual traumas, are often limited to the moment of their happening. But trauma fractures memories, and shards of it are sent back and forward in time, sticking like splinters. It shifts in size and shape, and squeezes its way between the mundane and the frightening. Trauma acts as a liquid, water-logging memories leaving them heavy and stuck. While all the time shifting and turning the ground beneath. 

Like a Beaten Dog, Shaking as a Shadow Crosses Overhead exists as a narrative video piece and series of drawings/photographs/sound works both depicting and becoming a part of my own complex process of healing. A process that spans multiple psychological dimensions of time. This perpetually unfinished work seeks to act as a reminder that the process of healing will never be done.”