September 10 – 30, 2019
The Bentway, Strachan Gate, Toronto
Curated by Courtney Miller and Valérie Frappier
Friday September 27, 3:00 - 4:00 PM
Undercurrents | A billboard exhibition featuring Susan Blight, Erika DeFreitas, Melissa General and Jessica Karuhanga
Undercurrents is a billboard exhibition created for The Bentway’s Community Incubation Program as part of the 2019 Fall Season, titled Second Nature. Looking to the influence from nearby Niigaani-gichigami/Lake Ontario as a lifebody, Undercurrents asks: what memories does this land and water hold? Whose histories are well documented, and whose are submerged?
Featuring a series of three double-sided billboards, the exhibition presents the work of four artists based in the Greater Toronto Area: Susan Blight, Erika DeFreitas, Melissa General and Jessica Karuhanga. Situating their physical bodies and cultural narratives in relation to water around Tkarón:to/Toronto, the artists re-assert ancestral histories, examine current contexts, and imagine future relations with water. Each billboard can be interpreted as simultaneous moments in time: the past, the present, and the future; demonstrating that histories continually resurface. Looking to the moon, the muse to water’s rhythms, time can be thought as a cycle—emerging and re-emerging, telling and re-telling—rather than points in a linear narrative.
Niigaani-gichigami/Lake Ontario is a confluence of rivers—a meeting place for Indigenous societies for over 11,000 years. While settler histories of the lake and surrounding area are widely known, Indigenous and Black histories in relation to this body of water have been submerged. Many Torontonians are disconnected with the lake’s various histories, and Undercurrents aims to revive their importance. The exhibition challenges colonial narratives of Tkarón:to/Toronto by highlighting artists who re-map understandings of this region by unearthing the past to imagine the future. Undercurrents re-aligns concepts of duration with natural cycles, scheduling the exhibition around the scope of September’s full moon to new moon lunar cycle (September 10 - 30).
About the curators:
Undercurrents is curated by Courtney Miller and Valérie Frappier, second-year graduate students in the Criticism and Curatorial Practice program at OCAD University. As a curatorial duo of both a recent newcomer to Tkarón:to/Toronto and someone who grew up in its northern suburbs, they cultivated a shared interest in uncovering histories of the land on which they currently live and work. Citing re-mapping strategies as a collaborative practice, their curatorial work aims to challenge colonial narratives while centering embodied knowledges and realigning with natural cycles.