“…an afternoon of engaging conversation and networking as we bring artists, funders, curators, creatives and sector practitioners together to explore how Black art, identity and liberation work converge - and the role we can all play in making that possible! The conversation will be facilitated by Rania El Mugammar who will be joined by Black artists, educators and practitioners including Anique J. Jordan, Ekow Nimako, Dainty Smith and Dori Tunstall (Dean of Design, OCAD/the first Black Dean of Design anywhere).”
Inspired by the story of Clara Ford, a Black Toronto-born woman accused in 1895 of murdering a wealthy white man who with a group of other assaulted her, Evidence is a performance of the legal history amounting to the entirety of the life we know of Clara. This performance asks for an acknowledgment of the traditions of Black women, trans and queer folks who continuously carve out spaces of subversion and liberation in a world that would rather view the survival strategies of the Black body as something to be feared, forbidden, registered and rendered disposable. Known for wearing men’s clothing and carrying a loaded revolver, when Clara appeared in court she uncharacteristically wore a womens Victorian dress, ultimately leading to her acquittal. Clara went on to join Sam T. Jacks Creoles, the first all-Black woman burlesque company in the United States.
The history of Clara Ford is one that is meticulously documented through tabloids and newspapers. I have read through the legal texts surrounding her case and the contexts of 1890’s Toronto to explore the questions: How have Black bodies created spaces of existence in a world that would rather destroy them. What does she offer us of our own means of survival? When it comes to the archives of Black Canada, blackness is primarily located in two places: the church and the court house. How can we use the story of a single Black Toronto woman to understand and further the complexities of Black life in this city?
I am very interested in the links between her survival and the current context of murders, mas incarceration and state sanctioned death. She represents a response to the judicial system, incarceration, slavery, colonialism and the ways we experience and resist these violences in our daily lives.
MOCA has invited artist and writer Lisa Steele to organize a series of talks and screenings that intersect, interact, or just plain act up with the lively resonances that exist between the iconic contemplations of Chantal Akermanand the deeply, contemporary investigations of Basma Alsharif.
Talk March 8, 7pm
Anique Jordan speaks about her work as an artist, a curator and a writer in Memory, Urgency, and Performing the Archive.
Talk March 15, 7pm
Serena Lee speaks about her work in video and performance in a talk entitled And Other Imaginary Lines.
Talk & Screening March 22, 7pm
Moyra Davey presents her film Hemlock Forest (2016) which has a very explicit connection to Akerman’s 1977 work News From Home.
Talk March 29, 7pm
Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue speak on their collaborative work as artists, curators and founders of FAG (Feminist Art Gallery) in a talk entitled Hers Is Still a Dank Cave.
Toronto based Lisa Steele works in video, photography, film and performance as well as writing and curating on video and media arts. Her videotapes have been extensively exhibited nationally and internationally and some of Steele’s best known work has focused on the female body and its depiction in film. With long-time collaborator Kim Tomczak, she co-founded Vtape; and is a recipient of the YWCA Woman of Distinction Achievement Award and the “Long Haul” Untitled Art Award, and, with Tomczak, the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts.
For more information visit MOCA here.