Photo of community meeting participants by Anique Jordan.
The State of Blackness Database project is a searchable, web-based, annotated catalogue of key visual art productions, analytic essays, oral history interviews, research papers and colloquia presentations – produced by and about black Canadian artists, critics and curators from the late 1980s to the present. The database seeks to provide visibility, and make accessible, information pertaining to black Canadian visual arts productions.
The State of Blackness Database will create a centralized site to house scholarly information and works by and about black artists and cultural producers. The database will provide access to material created by black artists, curators, and critics who, because of racial difference, have historically been at the margins of Canadian art production. It will centralize and disseminate knowledge from a cross section of disciplines including fine arts, design, and curatorial practice. The database will be made available in multiple modalities (text, image, and audio).
The database will provide insights into transcultural and transnational knowledge production in the context of Black Canada, highlighting its relationship to art education, the politics of representation, and inclusivity.
Content of The State of Blackness Database will include:
- A listing of curators, contributors, and Black artists
- Headshots, bios, and links to curators’ and artists’ website
- Past and current exhibitions projects curated by and about Black Canadian artists
- Digital versions of exhibition catalogues
- Essays, interviews, and papers on black Canadian visual art
This project will provide access to scholarly information on Canadian black visual art productions. It will also increase the visibility of black visual art and develop the Canadian discourse on Canadian black visual art. The project was inspired by discussions held at The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference.
Phase I (completed October 2017)
Vtape supported Phase 1 of the State of Blackness Database project. Vtape is a distributor of historical and contemporary media arts work by local, national, and international artists. It houses a research centre that caters to curators, scholars, educators, and the public. Vtape is also a world leader in the preservation and archiving of video art. The organization is committed to education and provides technical and research training to undergraduate and graduate students, cultural workers, and community groups through their internship programs.
Guided by Andrea Fatona, and Vtape’s Artistic Director Lisa Steele, researcher Elisha Lim compiled data on Black Canadian video production and presentation activities that have taken place between the early 1980’s through 1999, cataloguing key visual and media arts curatorial projects, analytic essays, oral history interviews, research papers and colloquia presentations — produced by and about black Canadian artists, critics and curators from the late 1980s to the present. The research included an exploration of the programming archive at A Space Gallery and the Vtape holdings.
A community meeting was held in late October to discuss and vision ways in which end users of the information- black artists, cultural producers and community members - can contribute to the processes by which new categories are developed to describe the materials. Preview access of the Vtape catalogue and a list of holdings by black artists were given to all attendees.
The State of Blackness Website
The State of Blackness on Youtube
The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference