Pamila Matharu, stuck between an archive and an aesthetic (installation view) 2019. Colour HD video, 40 mins.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Join artist Pamila Matharu for a screening of stuck between an archive and an aesthetic, a new experimental documentary recently featured at A Space Gallery as part of the 32nd Images Festival of Independent Film + Video. Mining lost and forgotten voices reverberating inside the institution, Matharu uses event documentation from found videotapes to explore what is missing from the AGO's archive. Remixing found materials that travel outside the museum, on the streets, on community-television and returning back inside the institution she asks, what exactly has or has not changed in the often-misunderstood area of “diversity programming”?

The screening will be followed by a conversation between the artist and Gabrielle Moser about the generation of this work. 


Pamila Matharu (b.1973) is an immigrant-settler of north Indian Panjabi-Sikh descent, born in Birmingham, England, based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). As an artist, she explores a range of transdisciplinary feminist issues, blurring the lines between objects, activism, community organizing, and public pedagogies. Her practices include object making (installation, collage, film/video/photography), curating/organizing, artist-led teaching, arts administration/advocacy, and social practice.

Gabrielle Moser is a writer, educator and independent curator based in Toronto. A founding member of EMILIA-AMALIA, she holds a PhD from the art history and visual culture program at York University in Toronto, Canada and is an Assistant Professor in art history at OCAD University.

This is an Accessible Event.

Venue & Address: 
E.P. Taylor Library & Archives, Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West

PHOTOGRAPHY + REPRESENTATION: Working From Insider/Outsider Perspectives

Friday, October 4, 2019 - 9:30am to 11:15am

The Photography Department Presents

PHOTOGRAPHY + REPRESENTATION: Working From Insider/Outsider Perspectives

Panel Discussion with: Indu Antony, Jeff Bierk, Michele Pearson Clarke, Gabrielle Moser

Organized and moderated by: Meera Margaret Singh

Centre For Emerging Artists and Designers

3rd floor, 115 McCaul


Venue & Address: 
OCAD U Centre For Emerging Artists and Designers 3rd floor, 115 McCaul Toronto, ON
poster for panel talk, pink bg with green shapes

Citizen Subjects: photography, race and belonging in Canada — with Dr. Gabrielle Moser

Gabrielle Moser in the Black Star Agency archives
The Prevoe Family of Halifax on the front page of The Clarion
Viola Desmond on the cover of The Clarion
Richard S. Finnie, Pangnirtung Federal Hostel and Day School (now Nunavut), 1927, Library and Archives Canada
Wilfred Doucette, Inuit transporting supplies for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.) from C.D. HOWE, Pangnirtung, 1951

Dr. Gabrielle Moser, assistant professor in Art History in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, sifts through photographic archives looking for Canadians in social situations and at political events. She questions the documented and the undocumented.

Black Star Agency archives, Ryerson Image Centre. Photo: Paul Tjepkema

In the early stages of what could be a five-year project, Moser reflects on both the photographic evidence from the past as well as those untaken photographs not captured by a camera at significant moments in time. “Can we imagine other histories,” she wonders, “other possible outcomes of those moments?”

With her latest project, Citizen Subjects: photography, race and belonging in Canada, Moser looks at how racialized subjects pictured themselves as citizens. So far, she has examined a series of photographs produced by the Canadian government that show the forced relocation of Inuit people above the Arctic Circle. She has also reviewed photographic archives from Nova Scotia’s African-Canadian newspapers.

It is her hope that the project will help to build the public’s visual literacy skills, encouraging them to read photographs for these overlooked citizens. She says, “Canadians don’t know their own history of racial discrimination and settler colonialism. When it comes to this very specific history, they don’t want to know.”

In 1947, Canada passed its first Citizenship Act, replacing the category of British subjects with the new category of Canadian citizens. Indigenous peoples were not included in this Act. With a few exceptions, Indigenous peoples were not included until a 1960 amendment of the Citizenship Act was passed.

But evident in the photographic archives, Moser explains, is the idea that racialized subjects did picture themselves as citizens.

Wilfred Doucette, Inuit transporting supplies for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P.) from C.D. HOWE, Pangnirtung, 1951. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada and the National Film Board

Richard S. Finnie, Pangnirtung Federal Hostel and Day School (now Nunavut), 1927. Courtesy Library and Archives Canada  

Nova Scotia’s The Clarion newspaper used the word ‘citizens’ to describe its African-Canadian audience well before the Citizenship Act came into existence. Additionally, more than 300 people emigrating from India on the SS Komagata Maru were turned away from disembarking in Vancouver in 1914. More than 30 years before the passing of the Citizenship Act, the group argued that as citizens of the Empire, they were also citizens of Canada.

The Prevoe Family of Halifax on the front page of The Clarion, vol. II, no. 2, February 1, 1947. Courtesy Nova Scotia Archives.

Viola Desmond on the cover of The Clarion, vol. I, no. 1, December 1946. Courtesy Nova Scotia Archives.

An art historian, critic and curator, Moser is analyzing how photographers, as well as their subjects and viewers, used and responded to the camera and its images in the first half of the 20th Century. She speaks of how, in many of the images, subjects show a tendency to choose somber and serious expressions over those that are more jubilant or expressive. “This response to the camera,” she explains, “was in part a bid to be taken seriously as citizens, and also a reaction to what was happening in the mainstream press at the time.” But it wasn’t the only reaction. Moser also describes how families posing for portraits in The Clarion newspaper — families whose members were, in this case, smiling — approached the experience of being photographed differently. “They were thinking about these images as a counterarchive to coverage of racial violence happening internationally,” she says. “The people in these photos were hearing and reading and responding to things like lynching postcards — terrible visual documents that spectacularize Black death."

Moser’s work certainly raises some difficult questions. What if, for example, we were to consider that which had been made invisible by existing accounts of those moments deemed ‘important’ in history?

Consider our approach in 2017 to the commemoration of Canada’s 150th year of Confederation. About this Moser is cautionary, and of course she’s not alone. “If we’re not careful,” she says, “this very nationalistic moment could erase a 12,000-year history of Indigenous ownership of the lands we now call Canada. So if we’re going to celebrate this history, how do we do so in a way that makes it possible to think about our complicated histories — those of settler colonialism and participation in the transatlantic slave trade?”

A Fulbright Canada Visiting Scholar at Rhode Island’s Brown University, Moser’s project is partially funded by $12,500 from the Fulbright Foundation. She has also received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Moser has plans to mount an exhibition related to Citizen Subjects: photography, race and belonging in Canada at Toronto’s Gallery 44 and Critical Distance in May 2019, as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. The exhibit will include contemporary artists’ projects that reimagine the archive materials and images from her research.

Heather Beaumont ( is both a creative and corporate writer, fascinated by ideation, art making and communication. Among her projects is a workshop she designed to showcase the art and text in children's picture books and help parents and caregivers develop stronger connections to the children in their care.

Heather Beaumont
Inline Image Template

Research Seed Grants and industry partnership news

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 - 8:30pm

OCAD University Office of Research is pleased to announce the following grant and award recipients: 

SSHRC Institutional Grants, Fall 2014

  • Robert Diaz, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Unsettling the Canadian Global City: Queer Filipino/as and Diasporic Imaginaries
  • Lynne Milgram, Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, From Market to Market: Filipino-Toronto Entrepreneurs Refashion a Transnational Business Landscape
  • Gabrielle Moser, Lecturer, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Developing Historical Negatives: Picturing Race and Citizenship in the Canadian Photographic Archive

OCAD U Research Seed Grants, Fall 2014

  • Greg Sims, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Design, Products Design for Sustainable 3D Printed Matter
  • Alia Weston, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Activate Enterprise: Business Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Development in a Post-Crisis Economy

CORUS Seed Grants, Fall 2014

  • Kate Hartman, Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Concentration-Activated Wearables
  • Barbara Rauch, Associate Professor, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Making Process: A Temporal Aesthetics Surface Investigation

The above grants have a value of $2500.


Prof. Judith Doyle’s installation PointCloud is being hosted by Telus Corporation. Prof. Doyle’s project will be installed in the Telus Innovation Centre.

CineFocus, a resident of the Imagination Catalyst (ICAT), was awarded a $10,000 investment by the Imagination Fund.

Twenty One Toys, another ICAT participant, was included in the roundup of Best Kid’s Design of 2014 by FastCoDesign.