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Des policiers à cheval de la ville de Toronto et d’autres à pied confrontent une foule au centre-ville le 4 mai 1992, pour réprimer le vandalisme et le pillage. Photo : John Mahler, The Toronto Star, 4 mai 1992 | Mounted Metro police officers and others on foot confront a crowd downtown on May 4, 1992, to quell vandalism and looting. Photo: John Mahler, The Toronto Star, 4 May 1992

Pamila Matharu
From January 21st 2023 to April 1st 2023
Where Were You in ‘92?

Opening, Saturday, January 21, 3pm to 5pm
Commented visit of the exhibition by Pamila Matharu, 3 pm to 4 pm - in English

Through experimentation with sound, image, found texts and acts of counter-archiving of personal and political experiences, Where Were You in ‘92? brings forth the embodied archives of the ground-breaking legacy of Fresh Arts, a Black artist-led program that was born out of the fury of impassioned youth. Pamila Matharu, one of the mentees of Fresh Arts, returns not only to this pivotal moment but also to her mentor, Winsom Winsom, who’s more than decade-long activist history in Kingston ON is under-recognized. This research project begins with the basic premise that archives are manifested in living bodies, in repeated stories, in unfinished conversations, sparked by events of the past that persist into the present, and, importantly, in the healing practices of intergenerational connectivity. Interested in forms of feminist genealogies that cite what came before and using the archive as a forum for recognition, resilience and radical love, Matharu looks back to Toronto’s 1992 youth-led uprising on Yonge Street that gave rise to Fresh Arts. Where Were You in ‘92? traces new lines of connection across history and geography, drawing in those who inherit its legacy and holding up those who mobilized its centrifugal forces.

This exhibition was originally presented at the Agnes Etherington Art Center, Kingston, Ontario (July 30 – December 4, 2022).

Author: Emelie Chhangur

Pamila Matharu and the team of OPTICA wish to thank Emelie Chhangur, Director and Curator, Nasrin Himada, Associate Curator, Academic Outreach and Community Engagement, and Charlotte Gagnier, Program Coordinator, and Leah Cox, Exhibition Coordinator at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston. Continued gratitude to the artist's mentor Winsom Winsom.



DELGADO, Jérôme, « 'Sédiment': les archives, outil de survie », Le Devoir, February 11, 2023.

DELGADO, Jérôme, Nicolas Mavrikakis. «Dix expos d'arts visuels à surveiller», Le Devoir, January, 14, 2023.

Note that Pamila Matharu is participating in two collective exhibitions in Montreal this season:

- Sediment: the Archive as a Fragmentary Basis, at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery, from February 4 to April 1, 2023. Including Sandra Brewster, Filipa César, Justine A. Chambers, Louis Henderson, Krista Belle Stewart .

Curator: Denise Ryner
Opening Saturday, February 4, 3p.m. – 5p.m.

Guided tour of the exhibition by Denise Ryner, Saturday February 4 at 2 p.m., in English

- Desire Lines. Narrative spaces on the move presented at Artexte until March 25.

Curator: Felicity Tayler
Including Luis Jacob, Tomasz Neugebauer, Clive Robertson and Felicity Tayler.

Pamila Matharu is a settler of Panjabi, Indian descent (Jalandhar City and the Village of Bhanolangha in the district of Kapurthala), born in Birmingham, England, and arrived in Canada in 1976. Based in Tkarón:to (Toronto) – Treaty 13 territory – on the lands of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. She holds a BA in Visual Arts, and a Fine Arts B.Ed. from York University. Approaching contemporary art from the position of critical pedagogy and using an interdisciplinary and intersectional feminist lens, Pamila’s work culminates in a broad range of forms including installation art, social practice, and experimental media art. Her 2019 solo exhibition debut One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, presented at A Space Gallery (Toronto), won the 2019 OAAG Award for Best Exhibition and the 2019 Toronto Images Festival Homebrew Award. Her project INDEX (SOME OF ALL PARTS) received the 2020 CONTACT Festival’s Edward Burtynsky Photobook Award. Her forthcoming monograph will launch at Brampton, Ontario’s PAMA (Peel Art Museum and Archives) in May 2023.

Toronto-born artist and award-winning writer and curator, Emelie Chhangur is the Director/ Curator of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Prior to this, she was the Senior Curator at the AGYU, Toronto, where she was known for her socially engaged curatorial practice, long-term collaborative commissions, and institutional practice of “in-reach.” She is the recipient of the inaugural OAAG BIPOC Changemaker Award (2019) and the Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellence (2020).

Leyla Majeri, Garden Archive : There's a wasp who penetrates the ladybug. Circa Art Actuel, Montréal, 2019.
Crédits photos : Jean-Michael Seminaro / Leyla Majeri

Leyla Majeri
From February 16th 2023 to February 16th 2023
En conversation avec Leyla Majeri, récipiendaire de la résidence Intersections 2022

12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Université du Québec à Montréal
Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, space J-7130 (on the 7th floor)
405 Sainte-Catherine Street East (corner St-Denis) H2L 2C4

Please take note that the talk will be held in French.

The artist Leyla Majeri is interested in notions of ecofeminism, that is, the reactivation of craftwork and ethnobotanical know-how through a practice of installation, sculpture, and experimental film. During this conversation, she will discuss her artistic approach, the research she produced during her residency at OPTICA, as well as her studio productions at UQAM’s visual and media arts department.

The discussion will be hosted by Romeo Gongora, professor at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM, and OPTICA director Marie-Josée Lafortune. The public presentation will be followed by a question period.

Bring your friends!

Intersections Residency Program: The Intersections research, creation and production residency rewards emerging first or second generation immigration artists who are members of an ethnic or visible minority and are graduates of the École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM. This new program aims to provide support to culturally diverse artists by giving them access to professional accompaniment to complement their university education in the Montreal arts milieu. For more information please see the website.

The Intersections Residency is a joint initiative of the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Centre d’art contemporain OPTICA, and École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM.

Holding a master's degree in Visual and Media Arts from UQAM, Leyla Majeri's practice focuses on sculptural installation and experimental animated film, bringing them into closer attention to ecologies between matter, the imagined and the political. With Harness the Sun (Arprim, Montreal, 2016), she initiates a dialogue between her art practice and her gardening practice to envision ways of ‘making’ that are rooted in the idea of commitment, as both an artistic process and as a mode of resistance. She furthers this exploration in Don't Blame Us If We Get Playful (Galerie de l'UQAM, 2018) and in Garden Archive – There's a wasp who penetrates the ladybug (CIRCA, Montreal, 2019) where she combines different languages and territories of practice, materialities, life forms and biotopes. Her current research draws on fictional approaches to ethnography, speculative biology and forms of intangible knowledge – which she re-imagines from a plot of land located on an agricultural field, where she established a food garden, a pharmacopoeia of medicinal plants and, more recently, plants she will incorporate into her new artwork.

In addition to these projects, her work has been shown at Parisian Laundry, Eastern Bloc, Paved Arts / Sounds Like (Saskatoon) in 2016 and soon to be exhibited at the Skol Centre in 2023. Leyla Majeri is a recipient of project grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and a research residency at the Centre Est-Nord-Est (Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, 2017). Leyla Majeri lives in Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyaang / Montréal where she was born.

Website of Leyla Majeri.

Visuel de l'activité de collage inspirée de la pratique de Pamila Matharu, février 2023. Crédit photo : Anne St-Louis. Visual of the collage activity inspired by the art practice of Pamila Matharu, February 2023. Photo Credit: Anne St-Louis.

Pamila Matharu
From February 25th 2023 to February 25th 2023
Nuit blanche 2023 : Venez décorer un carnet de notes personnel chez OPTICA!

On the occasion the Nuit Blanche 2023, OPTICA is inviting the general public to a night of experimentation and discovery inspired by the practice of Pamila Matharu and her exhibition Where were you in ‘92? After touring the exhibition space, participants of all ages are invited to take part in a collage workshop during which they will be able create the cover page of a notebook while sipping a hot drink with cookies!

OPTICA will hold two workshops: the first is aimed at young children and their families, and the second at the wider public. Throughout the evening, the centre will also propose interested visitors a short presentation of the artist’s practice and a guided tour of the exhibition. Gallery doors will be open to the public all evening for those wishing to visit independently.

In a warm and relaxed atmosphere, the proposed activity is meant as a way to archive one’s thoughts, use one’s senses, relax, have fun, discover, disconnect from the everyday, develop one’s intuition and creativity, and also gain a better understanding of oneself and/or of a subject.

Please note that entry to both the exhibition and workshops is free of charge. We’re looking forward to seeing you all!

Here is a more detailed evening schedule:

- 7 pm to 12 am: guided tours of the exhibition
- 7 pm to 8:30 pm: Collage workshop for families and their young children
- 8:30 pm to 9 pm: Guided tour of the exhibition hosted by the OPTICA mediator
- 9 pm to 12 am: Collage workshop for the general public



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Anouk Verviers, Tu m'as donné ton pot à bines (lettre à ma grand-mère). Vue d'exposition à Deptford X (Londres, UK), 2022. Installation vidéo. Structure de contreplaqué, pots en argile crue, projection sur bois. Vidéo 4K et son pour écouteurs. | Exhibition view at Deptford X (London, UK), 2022. Video installation. Plywood structure, raw clay pots, projection on wood. 4K video and sound for headphones. Crédit photo : Anouk Verviers

Anouk Verviers
From April 22nd 2023 to June 17th 2023
Qu'est-ce qu'on peut construire sur un sol en mouvance

Opening: April 22 at 3 p.m., in the presence of the artist.
Public conversation on April 29 at 3 p.m. between Anouk Verviers and Didier Morelli.

In Qu'est-ce qu'on peut construire sur un sol en mouvance, Anouk Verviers examines the economic concept of resources, exploring the connections with communities that it has generated, particularly connections articulated around the ecology of place and a shared local practice, once carried out by women and now abandoned in favour of industry.

Adopting a feminist and historical perspective, the exhibition is based on Vervier’s research into the transformation that occurred around the economy and manufacture of butter in Quebec, shifting from household production mainly undertaken by women farmers in the 18th century to industrial production in the 20th.

Without classifying or prioritizing them, the exhibition interweaves anecdotes, somatic know-how, historical analysis, meditative gestures, archival research, residency stories, and confidences. The video—the central piece—strives unsuccessfully to unravel the artist’s relationship with her generation, introducing the concept of community and of previous generations’ legacy.

Anouk Verviers engages in extensive long-term art projects revolving around discussion on collective issues. She articulates her art practice as a bicephalic entity: one head exists in the social realm, through collaborative and research-based projects, and the other exists in the art world, in artworks and exhibitions.

Anouk Verviers is an MFA candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, in the UK (2021-2023), and holds a BA in visual and media arts from l’Université du Québec à Montréal (2017) in Montreal (un-ceded territory of Tiohtià:ke and Mooniyang).

Her work has been shown in Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom: this includes solo exhibitions at OPTICA (2023, Montreal), Vaste et Vague (2023, Carleton) and Regart (2019, Lévis); group exhibitions at Futures_After (2022, London, UK), and Dogo Residenz (2019, Lichtensteig, Switzerland); artist residencies with CCE@HGAED (2022, London, UK) and Dogo Residenz (2019, Lichtensteig, Switzerland); and community projects presented by 3e Impérial (2021, Granby) and Dare Dare (2016, Montreal).

As a researcher, she is a member of the Centre for Research in Social Innovation and Transformation (CRITS) at St-Paul University in Ottawa (un-ceded territory of Odawa) and has published in Research in Arts and Education Journal (2022) from the Aalto University, Espoo, in Finland.

Racquel Rowe, Making Sweet Bread with Gran, 2020. Détail. Vidéo, 11 min. 32 s. Avec l'aimable permission de l'artiste. | Detail. Video, 11 min. 32 sec. Courtesy of the artist.

Racquel Rowe
From April 22nd 2023 to June 17th 2023
The Chicken is Just Dead First

Opening: April 22 at 3 p.m., in the presence of the artist. Commented visit of the exhibition by the artist in English, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Hailing from Barbados and living in New Brunswick, interdisciplinary artist Racquel Rowe draws inspiration from history, matrilineal family structures, diasporic communities, and her Caribbean background. Her practice, composed of performance, video, and site-specific installation, embraces the differences and similarities in various black experiences throughout the diasporas. Through her works, she engages in various critical discourses on race, migration, and colonialism, strengthening her own ability to understand and to break with colonial representations.

The Chicken is Just Dead First refers to a collection of short stories by Zalika Reid-Benta titled Frying Plantain, which brings together stories of the experiences of a first-generation Jamaican-Canadian growing up in Toronto. Through this exhibition, she interrogates the effects of world events and the legacy of British colonialism on the perception of black women.

Rowe, who exhibits her work throughout Ontario, holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo and a BA in art history and studio arts from the University of Guelph.

Racquel Rowe is an interdisciplinary artist from the island of Barbados currently residing in Canada. She holds an MFA from the University of Waterloo and a BA in History and Studio Art from the University of Guelph. Her practice is continuously influenced by many aspects of history, matrilineal family structures, diasporic communities, and her upbringing in Barbados. Exhibited widely across Ontario, her work takes the form of performance, video, site-specific work, and installation.

Exploring the notion of compulsory visibility and subverting dominant ideologies, Rowe’s practice embraces the differences and similarities between the various Black experiences across the Diaspora. Engaging in critical conversations around race, migration, and colonialism, furthers her ability to understand and break away from colonial representations. Rowe’s practice is largely influenced by her surroundings, for example being in Barbados for extended periods of time allows her to expand into new environments, researching, and performing within familial and community structures.

She has had solo exhibitions at the Scarborough Museum, Toronto, Ontario (2022); Struts Gallery, Sackville, New Brunswick (2022); University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, Ontario (2021). In recent years, her projects have been presented in group exhibitions at the Cambridge Art Galleries, Cambridge, Ontario (2021), as well as at festivals: InterAccess Vector Festival, Toronto, Ontario (2021) and Lumen Festival, Waterloo, Ontario (2020). She was the recipient of the Sylvia Knight Award in Fine Arts of the University of Waterloo in 2021.