“Our rights to desire, to freely inhabit our bodies, to exist without discrimination based on our (access to) assets or where we come from, have all been hard won, and often alongside the visual and aesthetic expressions of artists. With the knowledge that artists reflect their time in the ways they record, perceive and create, I have been watching artists’ film and video and reading texts in the critical writing index to study the ethics and political struggles of the past. This archival project research considers the decades of collected film, video and critical writing that has been gathered at Vtape. I propose to trace the changes in our art and activism in the 70s, 80s and 90s until today, with particular attention to the development of black film and video practices, in order to see where headway has been made and where our struggles may have become stagnant. I ask: what are the concerns of a new generation of emerging racialized artists? In what ways do their questions parallel those of the 70s, 80s and 90s?
“This project will undertake these larger questions through close reads of several bodies of work and pieces of critical writing. I look at identity politics and various cultural legacies considering race and sexuality and health and gender and class. In my initial search I have reviewed the works of Buseje Bailey, Richard Fung, John Greyson, Sylvia Hamilton, Claire Prieto, Carole Condé & Karl Beveridge, Deanna Bowen and Donna James. My critical writing touchstones are a 2007 FUSE roundtable between Andrea Fatona, Aruna Srivastava and Rinaldo Walcott on “Ethno Politics of Identity,” a 1993 Cineaction survey article by Gabrielle Hezekiah about black Canadian women filmmakers and video artists, as well as a missive written by the incubator participants of the 2019 Images Festival, in which these racialized emerging artists, art workers and curators express their vexation and disappointment with the organization’s efforts towards diversity and inclusion. I will consider the work and politics of the generations past through the lens of this callout. Their ethical expectations will be the signposts I use to get a sense of what has changed or stayed the same. The research will include several interviews with filmmakers and activists whose testimonials and histories will be important context for my considerations of the works. The research will end in a single substantial essay, a short screening program and a public conversation with one of the video artists.” Yaniya Lee, 2019
image: Maigre Dog, Donna James, 1990.