Before spoken-word poetry, hip hop and rap emerged as dominant forces in Toronto’s cultural sphere, Lillian Allen was presenting her delicately fierce, rhythmic and roaring poetics. Bending boundaries, mixing and melding genres, A two time Juno award winner, Allen’s flowing messages of personal and political transformation are as relevant as when she started out some decades ago.
Allen is currently a Creative Writing Professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design University
Christina Battle’s (Edmonton, Canada) research and artistic work consider the parameters of disaster; looking to it as action, as more than mere event and instead as a framework operating within larger systems of power. Through this research she imagines how disaster could be utilized as a tactic for social change and as a tool for reimagining how dominant systems might radically shift. [www.cbattle.com]
Raymond Boisjoly is an Indigenous artist of Haida and Québécois descent based in Vancouver. Boisjoly’s practice operates as active speculation, engaging issues of Indigeneity, language as cultural practice, and the experiential aspects of materiality. His process is situated in proximity to photography, and concerns the nature of technology and its transmission as a means of indexing and understanding cultural transformation.
Deanna Bowen is a descendant of two Alabama and Kentucky born Black Prairie pioneer families from Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta. Bowen’s family history has been the central pivot of her auto-ethnographic interdisciplinary works since the early 1990s. She makes use of a repertoire of artistic gestures in order to map her family’s migration, define the Black body, and trace its presence and movement in place and time. In recent years, her work has involved rigorous examination of her family lineage and their connections to Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley and Black Strathcona, the All-Black towns of Oklahoma, the extended Kentucky/Kansas Exoduster migrations and the Ku Klux Klan.
Joshua Chambers-Letson is an associate professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University.
“keyon gaskin prefers not to contextualize their art with their credentials.”
Che Gossett is a Black trans femme writer and critic.
Steffani Jemison uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine “progress” and its alternatives. Jemison’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
Image: (c) Nottingham Contemporary, 2017
Yaniya Lee is a Toronto-based writer and editor interested in the ethics of aesthetics. Lee currently works as Features Editor at Canadian Art magazine.
Jessica Lynne is a writer and art critic. She is a founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online journal of art criticism from Black perspectives.
Image: By Willa Koerner
Speaker (Vancouver Panel)
Olivier Marboeuf is an author, critic, performer and curator. In Paris, he founded and directed the contemporary arts space, l’Espace Khiasma from 2004 until its close in 2018. At Khiasma, he has developed a programme addressing minority representations through exhibitions, screenings, debates, performances and collaborative projects across the North-East of Paris.
Charmaine Nelson is a Professor of Art History. Receiving her PhD in Art History from the University of Manchester (UK) in 2001, she has taught at McGill since 2003.
Image: By Charles Michael
M NourbeSe Philip
M. NOURBESE PHILIP is an unembedded poet, essayist, novelist, playwright and independent scholar who lives in the space-time of the City of Toronto. She practised law in the City of Toronto for seven years before becoming a poet and writer. She has published four books of poetry including the seminal She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, one novel and four collections of essays. Her book-length poem, Zong!, is a conceptually innovative, genre-breaking epic, which explodes the legal archive as it relates to slavery. Her most recent work is BlanK, a collection of essays on racism and culture. Among her awards are numerous Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, including the prestigious Chalmers Award, as well as the Pushcart Prize (USA, 1981), the Casa de las Americas Prize (Cuba, 1988), the Lawrence Foundation Prize (USA, 1994), the Arts Foundation of Toronto Writing and Publishing Award (Toronto,1995), the Dora Award (finalist, drama, 1999), and the Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (Outstanding mid-career artist. 2015). Her fellowships include Guggenheim (1990), McDowell (1991), and Rockefeller (Bellagio) (2005). She is an awardee of both the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Arts) and the Elizabeth Fry Rebels for a Cause awards. She has been Writer-in-Residence at several universities and a guest at writers’ retreats.
Tina Post is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the English Department of the University of Chicago, where she teaches courses for Creative Writing, Theatre and Performance Studies, and the Center for Race, Politics, and Culture.
Denise Ryner is director/curator at Or Gallery in Vancouver. She has presented projects at the Haus der Kulteren der Welt, Berlin; the Contemporary Art Gallery of Vancouver; and the Jackman Humanities Institute, Toronto, amoung others.
Imani Elizabeth Jackson and S*an D. Henry-Smith
Imani Elizabeth Jackson is a poet from Chicago working between text, performance, and food with attention to embodied ecologies, grief, and middle passage’s unfurlings. S*an D. Henry-Smith is an artist, writer, and cook working primarily in poetry, photography and performance, engaging Black experimentalisms and collaborative practices. As mouthfeel, the duo explore the entanglements of poetry, performance, ephemeral practices, and Black culinary traditions.
Image: By Danny Sadiel Peña
Aisha Sasha John
Aisha Sasha John’s medium is energy. She is the 2019-2022 Dancemakers Resident Artist; in 2020 she will remount her solo the aisha of is which premiered at the Whitney Museum in 2017. Aisha was a member of WXPT Toronto, the company formed as part of taisha paggett’s School for the Movement of the Technicolo(u)r People (Gallery TPW, 2019). From 2015-2017, Aisha choreographed, performed and curated as part of the collective WIVES. She is author of the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize nominated collection, I have to live. (M&S 2017), as well as THOU (Book*hug 2014).
Speaker (Vancouver Panel)
François Vergès is a Paris-based author, curator and activist whose most recent publication “Un féminisme décolonial” (2019) considers the perspective of racialized feminists and the conditions for intersectional solidarity and radical transformation of society. She has published, in French and in English, works and articles on Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, the ambiguities of abolitionism, colonial and postcolonial psychiatry, slavery remembrance, the processes of creolisation in the Indian Ocean, and new forms of colonisation and racialisation.
Image courtesy Cyrille Choupas
Krys Verrall is an art and cultural critic, and educator in the Department of Humanities Children’s Studies Program at York University, Toronto. Her scholarship explores the intersection of the complex politics of race, age and citizenship with avant-garde aesthetic practices.
Kandis Williams is an artist, philosopher, editor, and publisher living and working in Los Angeles and Berlin.
Bear Witness is an artist and musician.