Over My Black Body at UQAM

Over My Black Body at UQAM

Galerie de l’UQAM’s 2018-2019 season comes to an end with Over My Black Body, a fascinating group exhibition that delves into the ways in which black bodies are codified and controlled. Curated by Eunice Bélidor and Anaïs Castro, Over My Black Body showcases works by local as well as American and British artists.

Over My Black Body is a collaborative project that was born out of a conversation between Eunice Bélidor and Anaïs Castro as they observed the ways in which bodies are codified in our contemporary societies. Through this continuous dialogue, Over My Black Body has become a tool to support the movement against the control of black bodies, to recognize the costumes imposed on them, while denouncing with insurgence the impunity given to institutionalized violence. The project favors an evolving mode and continues to take different forms and reach different audiences since its first iteration in Berlin in 2018.

The black body is the site of a long battle. Through history it fought for liberation from colonial power structures that exchanged it as a commodity. It is the blood, sweat and tears that built America and its first transnational industries: sugar cane, cotton, tobacco, etc. To this day the media controls the contextualisation of this body, lightening its skin when it is being praised and darkening it to demonize it. While its white peers enjoy popular codes portraying them as rational, sensible and cerebral, the black body is kept aside. The myth of blackness is one of an impulsive, irrational individual, violent in nature. If its body is celebrated for its physical abilities, particularly in the context of sporting events, these same prejudicial attributes serve to reinforce the idea of a powerful and dangerous body, one that is always a potential threat. It is precisely this myth that has cultivated the systemic racism that prevails across the Western world and that is at least responsible for the continued scrutiny and control of black bodies and more severely for the crisis that is the mass killing of black people in America and in the United Kingdom.

At Galerie de l’UQAM, Over My Black Body becomes a journey through which the visitor is invited to reflect on the many codes that harm the black body in our society. Despite its political nature, the project is also a celebration of black life, through North American and British manifestations. The participating artists manipulate the codes of their culture in ways that are simultaneously celebratory and defiant.

Over My Black Body is presented by Galerie de l’UQAM in the context of UQAM’s 50th anniversary. It is part of a desire to examine increasingly important realities within the university community.

Haiti-born, Montréal-based multidisciplinary artist Manuel Mathieu is known for his paintings, which investigate themes of historical violence, erasure, as well as Haitian visual cultures of physicality, nature, and religious symbolism. Marrying abstract and figurative techniques, his compositions carve out space for us to reflect on Haiti’s transformative history while inviting us to consider the different futures the act of remembering creates. Drawing from a wide-range of subjects, Manuel’s practice combines his Haitian heritage and his formal arts education, which culminated in an MFA Degree from Goldsmiths University (London, 2016) and a BFA from UQAM (2010). His works have been exhibited in Europe, Asia and North America, notably in Chicago (Nobody is Watching, Kavi Gupta, 2018), in China (Wu Ji, HdM gallery, Beijing 2019) and in the UK (Truth to Power, Tiwani Contemporary, London, 2019).

Exhibition presented as part of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)'s 50th anniversary celebrations
Curators: Eunice Bélidor, Anaïs Castro
Artists: Nakeya Brown, Marilou Craft, Stanley Février, Erika DeFreitas, Amartey Golding, Manuel Mathieu, Chloé Savoie-Bernard
Until June 22, 2019

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