Anna Binta Diallo, Braxton Garneau, Preston Pavlis
Curated by Nura Ali
September 28 – November 17, 2023
Opening reception on September 28 at 6-9pm
Taking place across Stride Gallery (1006 Macleod Tr SE) & The Bows (2001b 10 Ave SW)
The Bows and Stride Gallery are excited to announce a collaborative exhibition, Black-Space-Time, curated by Nura Ali. The exhibition is a culmination of research undertaken over 2 years by Ali as a Research Fellow.
Black holes, with their ability to suck in all light, are impossible to perceive visually. Like power and ideology, their incorporeal presence is detectable only by their influence; by the way they bend spacetime and alter the orbits of the objects around them. Logically, having a gravitational force so powerful that even light can’t escape should mean black holes constantly expand, and yet, they appear to remain relatively consistent in size and shape. The perplexing mystery of black holes was recently answered when scientists discovered that while appearing changeless, black holes are in fact constantly expanding inwardly through the steady increase of their complexity.
These celestial black bodies, with their seemingly immutable exteriors and fluxing-complexifying interiors, provide a quantum framework for thinking about the relationship between corporeal Black bodies and the politics of place. Like their quantum counterparts, earthly Black bodies, in the terms of Western political imagination and historiography, have in a large part remained unthinkable. Within this onto-structural oppression—as Saidiya Hartman calls it—the parameters of Western discourse and disciplinary practices literally cannot think the thoughts and actions of black bodies. Consequently, the analytical tools made within this system were not forged to aid in the understanding of Black subjectivity but for the express purposes of skewing Black bodies towards becoming a certain kind of subject, towards a certain kind of social trajectory. Hartman argues that this “position of the unthought” doesn’t even show up as a position. Like black holes in the night sky, it’s a kind of position that’s marked by its non-position.
While the unthinkability of Black life has long cataracted euro-centric eyes from being able to engage with Black art fulsomely, I am indebted to theorists like Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten and Tina Campt, for gifting me with a critically-Black methodology for engaging with Black art in ways that go beyond obsessively looking towards the identity of the maker as the only component conferring meaning. This exhibition, then, is in an attempt to think through the potential and possibility of a Black curatorial practice that unfolds from a fugitive and speculative state of mind; one that unspools slowly from myriad acts of Black care and intimacy. You could say that this exhibition is my attempt to journey into slippery Black space-time; into the birth-place of my abundant, expansive desire to care for Black life. A face-first dive into the over-spill, into the and, and, and.
Nura Ali is a visual artist, writer and curator, living and working in Calgary, Alberta. She received a BFA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, a BA in English Literature, Art History and Italian from the University of Leicester and a BA in History from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her wide-ranging practise investigates the linguistic and cognitive scaffolding underpinning the ways in which we create meaning. Nura has shown her work across Canada and internationally, received numerous awards and grants; most recently from the Canada Council for the Arts, The Arts Canada Institute, Calgary Arts Development and the Rozse Foundation and has taken part in various national and international residencies. When she is not curled up with a book or pottering around her garden, Nura is dreaming up ways to dismantle oppressive structures and for this reason became one of the founding members of the Vancouver Artists Labour Union; a unionised workers cooperative whose mission it is to transform labour practises in the arts sector and create fair, equitable and sustainable working conditions for artists and cultural workers.
Anna Binta Diallo (b. Dakar, Senegal) is a multi-disci- plinary visual artist who investigates memory and nostalgia to create unexpected narratives surrounding identity. Her work has been exhibited widely in Canada and internation- ally (Finland, Senegal, Mali, Taiwan and Germany.) She is the recipient of several grants and distinctions. In 2023 and 2019 her work was shortlisted for SSNAP, and in 2021, she won the Barbara Sphor Memorial Prize and received the Black Designers of Canada Award of Excellence. In 2022, she was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award. She teaches at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art, on Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples and the Métis Nation. Anna Binta Diallo is represented in Canada by Towards Gallery.
Preston Pavlis (b. 1999, Loma Linda, California) currently lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he is completing his studies at the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design. Pavlis has presented his work in solo and group exhibitions at Half Gallery (New York), Guts Gallery (London), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Winnipeg), Spurs Gallery (Beijing), and Bradley Ertaskiran (Montreal), among others. His work is part of the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), and has been featured in publications such as Black- Flash, esse arts + opinions, and C Magazine.
Pavlis’ work on canvas and fabric represents his interest in the fusion of painting and textiles as a means to explore narrative, form, and colour. Focused on poetic association and metaphor, the resulting works in oil, embroidery, and collage are personal charts for time and memory.
Braxton Garneau is a visual artist based in amiskwaci- wâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada). He holds a BFA from the University of Alberta and has had solo exhibitions at Stride Gallery, Calgary (2021) and Parallel Space, Edmonton (2019). His work was featured in the retrospective exhibition Black Every Day at the Art Gallery of Alberta (2021), It’s About Time: Dancing Black in Canada 1900 – 1970 and Now at Mitchell Art Gallery (2020), curated by Seika Boye, and New Direction, curated by AJ Girard and Artx at Château Cîroc, Miami, Florida (2021). His first American solo exhibition, Procession, will open at GAVLAK, Los Angeles in Spring 2023.
Working in painting, sculpture, printmaking and installation, Garneau’s practice is rooted in costuming, transfor- mation, and material honesty. Combining visual influences from classical European portraiture and Afro-Caribbean culture with harvested and hand-processed materials, he creates portraits, shrines, and corporeal forms that explore the sociocultural history of his Caribbean heritage. The materials used–raffia, sugarcane pulp, cowrie shells, asphalt–share inextricable colonial histories and cultural ties to those who’ve spent generations in close proximity to them.