Group Exhibition Movers and Makers
- Aaron Jones
- Christina Leslie
- Dainesha Nugent-Palache
- Bidemi Oloyede
Addressing Black subjectivity through artistic strategies of photographic experimentation and materiality, Movers and Makers speaks to the present moment and a desired future of Black optimism. Toronto-based artists Aaron Jones, Christina Leslie, Dainesha Nugent-Palache, and Bidemi Oloyede use photo-collage, pinhole portraits, and other visual strategies to re-frame the process and making of photographic artworks.
While the past year has had a devastating impact on many people, it has been especially hard for those of the Black diaspora, as the two overlapping catastrophes of a global pandemic and anti-Black racism have taken a profound toll. Movers and Makers is a visually enlivened and responsive exhibition that has evolved from Movers and Shakers, a group exhibition held at Prefix ICA in 2018 of Toronto-based artists. This precursor critically examined the changing possibilities of the character of the camera in still and moving images. While continuing to provide much needed presentation for local artists, Movers and Makers critically shifts toward Black artists who experiment with photography’s material aspects while being informed by the overwhelming reality of being an artist in Toronto now.
Aaron Jones uses collage to express his perspectives on art and contemporary culture in relation to his evolving sense of self. His techniques of constructing, deconstructing, and recreating with paper-on-paper create works that are multilayered in visual and experiential meaning. His most recent work plays with the visual language of abstraction, while emphasizing the presence and power of the human body.
Christina Leslie works with historical photographic methods in an artistic response to digital dominance in photography. Influenced by art historical research and responding to the colonial gaze, she produces intimate and formal pinhole portraits of family and friends. These portraits express the beauty and humanity of those who are often overlooked.
Dainesha Nugent-Palache experiments with colour, light, and domestic space to create still lives that depict the real and the unreal qualities of comfort and alienation. Her evocative images pay homage to her family and her ancestors as she uses objects to share narratives of belonging and separation.
Bidemi Oloyede uses analogue black-and-white photography to explore his position as an observer and a participant in documenting public space. His images capture the collective energy of the 2020 social justice protests, which demanded an end to anti-Black racism and pleaded for a more peaceful and equitable future.
Together, the four artists in Movers and Makers open up the possibilities of thinking about what a photograph has become as an art object in the 21st century. They reimagine the aesthetic use of black-and-white photography, push the signifying power of colour photography, and expand on traditional approaches to portraiture to challenge some of the aesthetic, conceptual, and theoretical working assumptions of lens-based artistic creation.
Curated by Betty Julian
Aaron Jones combines experimental photography and sourced images to create collages that are reflective of his own life and upbringing. Often collected from his childhood home or from friends, the images originate in magazines from National Geographic and Sports Illustrated to Black-owned publications such as Essence, as well as encyclopedias and educational texts. Jones actively looks for Black individuals in the media he mines, finding new and distinct ways to build characters and spaces that reflect his environment.
Bidemi Oloyede was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria, and has called Toronto home since 2012. He graduated from OCAD University in 2019 with a BFA in photography. Also in 2019, he received the Verant Richard Award for his accomplishment in photography. Oloyede’s work focuses on the Black community he knows intimately, which he explores through portraiture and spontaneous images of people he encounters on the street. Using black-and-white, medium- and large-format photography, his work utilizes historical processes and archival documentation to consider how picture-making imparts meaning and importance to the subject. Oloyede’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario; the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives; and Capital One. He is represented by the Nicholas Metivier Gallery.