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Videos / August 10, 2017

In the Studio with Deanna Bowen

Toronto artist and Guggenheim fellow Deanna Bowen takes us into her studio—sharing family photographs, archival research and a pair of meticulously recreated KKK robes

For almost a decade, Toronto artist Deanna Bowen has been excavating her family’s genealogy—who they were and how generations of them have experienced anti-Blackness in 20th-century Canada.

“It’s been a long, long journey of unpacking Blackness in Canada, the problem being that it’s such a complex, ultimately violent story that I’m talking about,” Bowen says. “So how do you frame it properly?”

To understand how her family history positions her in Canada today, Bowen’s deep historical research ranges from community and institutional archives, first-person conversations and forgotten photographs to newspaper clippings and television recordings. She uses whatever medium can best tell the stories she uncovers: shot-for-shot remakes in video and performance, documentary photography, text-based reproductions, and a theatrical production for a fall 2017 solo exhibition at Mercer Union.

In this studio-visit video, Bowen shares key works that have resulted from this intensive research, including aspects of Invisible Empires—a project that reproduced and re-presented white-supremacist artifacts in a gallery setting.

Merray Gerges

Merray Gerges writes around art rather than about it. She studied art history at NSCAD and journalism at King’s in Halifax, where she co-founded and co-edited CRIT, a free biannual criticism publication. Her reporting and criticism have appeared in Canadian ArtC MagazineMOMUS, Hyperallergic and more, addressing issues ranging from the radical potential (and shortcomings) of intersectional feminist memes and art selfies, to art-world race politics. At Canadian Art, she was editorial resident in 2016, and assistant editor from 2017 to 2019. She's currently the editorial fellow at C Magazine.