The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference brought together artists, critics, and curators to develop art education practices as a way of rectifying the invisibility of Blackness in Canadian art curriculum. It engaged participants in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada.
The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation Conference focused on developing networks of engagement and knowledge exchange while developing methodologies and practices that inform the future of black Canadian artistic production and teaching. The conference addressed:
- The role of post-secondary art education in perpetuating the invisibility of Blackness
- Broadening conversations and scholarship on the state of pedagogy in relation to blackness in Canada
- Making and strengthening connections across disciplinary fields including fine art, design, and curatorial practice
- Developing working education strategies that serve as resources for multicultural educators, curators, and researchers
The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation was a two-day interdisciplinary conference held at OCAD University and the Harbourfont Centre of the Arts in February 2014. It brought together 42 artists, curators, academics, students, and multiple publics to engage in dialogue about the history, current state, and future of black diasporic artistic practice and presentation in Canada. The conference included closed working sessions and public events.
Since the demise of Canada’s national black arts service organization, CAN: BAIA, in the late ‘90s, there has been little public effort to engage the multiplicity of communities and discourses that define blackness and its expressive manifestations in the Canadian context. The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference was therefore a much-needed forum, as it placed issues of race and cultural difference at the center of a discussion with regards to the marginalization and simultaneous excess of Blackness in the realm of popular culture.
The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation conference created an interdisciplinary approach to teaching practices and curriculum content development in both universities and galleries. It allowed scholars and curators to network and share pedagogical strategies for disseminating the works of black artists. Documentation of the conference via podcast (include link here) archives the activities of the conference and provides research data for academics.
This project served to enhance the visibility of black cultural production in the context of multicultural Canada, and broadened critical knowledge about art practices and products. While attending The State of Blackness conference, several delegates successfully proposed to further the discussion by holding another forum of Black curators during the professional preview of the 56th Venice Biennale. The conference was also the inspiration for the State of Blackness Database project.
The State of Blackness Website
The State of Blackness on Youtube
The State of Blackness Database project
Expanded Context: Black Canadian Curators at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale 2015
Conference participants included: Karen Miranda Augustine, Deanna Bowen, Sandra Brewster, Charles Campbell, Mark V. Campbell, Wayde Compton, Julie Crooks, Erika DeFreitas, Pamela Edmonds, Dominique Fontaine, Honor Ford-Smith, Richard Fung, Sylvia Hamilton, Jérôme Havre, Ebony L. Haynes, Johanna Householder, Camille A. Isaacs, Michelle Jacques, Alice Ming Wai Jim, Betty Julian, Olivia McGilchrist, Anna Jane McIntyre, Megan Morgan, Charmaine Nelson, Abdi Osman, Michèle Pearson Clarke, AboubakarSanogo, Adrienne Shadd, Dionne Simpson, Rema Tavares, Camille Turner, Gaëtane Verna, Rinaldo Walcott, Genevieve Wallen, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Natalie Wood.
Photograph of conference participants by Ella Cooper.