Canadian Artists – Spotlights

Rajni Perrera:

RAJNI PERERA b. 1985
Lives and works in Toronto, Canada

“The canon, during my school years, started to fail me as an immigrant,” says Perera. “It’s really Eurocentric, it’s very white-centric, and I stopped seeing myself in what I was being taught.” So during her time at OCAD University, Perera began to delve on her own into art history outside of Western constraints, where miniaturist painting caught her eye. She subversively blends elements of this tradition with her love of sci-fi and fashion to create meticulously painted, carefully detailed patterned works, which are often empowering portraits of women of colour.

 Rajni Perera was born in Sri Lanka in 1985 and lives and works in Toronto. She explores issues of hybridity, sacrilege, irreverence, the indexical sciences, ethnography, gender, sexuality, popular culture, deities, monsters and dream worlds. All of these themes marry in a newly objectified realm of mythical symbioses. They are flattened on the medium and made to act as a personal record of impossible discoveries. In her work she seeks to open and reveal the dynamism of these icons, both scripturally existent, self-invented and externally defined. She creates a subversive aesthetic that counteracts antiquated, oppressive discourse, and acts as a restorative force through which people can move outdated, repressive modes of being towards reclaiming their power.

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RAJNI PERERA & NEP SIDHU, “BANNERS FOR NEW EMPIRES” |

“Artists Rajni Perera and Nep Sidhu combine languages of ancestral technology and science fiction to create a parallel visual universe. Through their sympathetic and vivid visuals, the artists emphasize an unapologetically immigrant and Indigenous forward futurism. Together they advance a victorious campaign for new empires that subvert and resist the dominance and violent effects of colonialism and modernist notions of utopia.

KEY WORDS:

Colonialism occurs when a country or a nation takes control of other lands, regions, or territories outside of its borders (boundaries of the country) by turning those other lands, regions, or territories into a colony. Usually, it is a more powerful, richer country that takes control of a smaller, less powerful region or territory. Sometimes the words “colonialism” and “imperialism” are used to mean the same thing.

In the 1700s and 1800s, many of the richer, more powerful European countries (such as BritainFranceSpain, and the Netherlands) established colonies in the continents of AfricaSouth AmericaAsia, and the Caribbean.

Some countries use colonialism to get more land for their people to live in. They helped settlers move to the new area. The local people living in the land or territories were usually moved away by using force and violence from armies. To protect these settlers from the local residents who were pushed aside, colonial nations often set up a military fort or colonial police system.

Other countries use colonialism to get more land so that they can use the land for farming or to extract (take out) resources such as trees (wood), coal, or metals, or to create a local government or military fort. (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonialism) Other countries use local, colonized people as cheap labourers and slaves.”

The effects of colonizing, exploiting, policing, moving, murdering and enslaving people reverberates in the ideas, identities cultures, health, wealth and well being of colonized peoples for generations.

Diaspora: “A diaspora (/daɪˈæspərə/)[1] is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale.” (Often involuntary dispersion – as slaves from Africa moved involuntarily make up an “African diaspora”.)

See the series: http://www.rajniperera.com/traveller

Utopia: “A utopia (/juːˈtoʊpiə/yoo-TOH-pee-ə) is an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens.[1] The opposite of a utopia is a dystopia.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia)

Utopia may be impossible, or only an idea – because what is utopian for one group may be dystopian for others.

Neo-Exoticism: “perceptions of ethnic female sexuality prevalent in Western culture – a set of  (mostly manufactured) ideas used to market products to wealthy Anglosaxon consumers, as well as perpetuate an exoticized, idealized image of ethnic female sexuality” http://www.rajniperera.com/embellished-photography

http://www.rajniperera.com/the-new-enthnography

No Pigs In Space
2015

Futurism: “Ideals of Futurism remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on youth, speed, power and technology finding expression in much of modern commercial cinema and culture.” tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futurism

OTW
2016

“Aftro-Futurism is defined as: “

“Afrofuturism is many things, but the short definition is: an aesthetic movement with an Afrocentric, science fiction-inspired vision of the future.

This dazzling movement spans many media – from literature to film to music and, of course, the visual arts. Beautiful cyborg queens, spaceships that put Star Wars to shame and the most wicked sunglasses you can imagine are just a few of its signature features.

Born in the early 1990s, Afrofuturism is as much a critique of today as it is a vision of tomorrow. By painting a picture of a future populated with people of colour who have technologically enhanced bodies and superhuman strength, who drive opulent spacecrafts and live in worlds where power is not a struggle, Afrofuturism artists imagine a future that has left a problematic world of Euro-centrism, oppression and injustice in the past. “” https://www2.ocadu.ca/feature/what-is-afrofuturism-and-why-do-you-need-to-know-about-it

See the series: http://www.rajniperera.com/afrika-galaktika-1

http://www.rajniperera.com/

Walter Scott:

Walter Scott: “Wendy is a post-art school 20-something girl who has dreams of art stardom. She lives in a city similar to Montreal. Despite her intelligence and ambitions to become a super famous artist, she makes a lot of dumb decisions, is wasted all the time, makes out with dumb guys in dumb bands, and is generally an emotional wreck. She is also trendy and has nice hair.”

https://gem.cbc.ca/media/in-the-making/season-2/episode-2/38e815a-0119c2d0a84

Ken Lum:

https://gem.cbc.ca/media/in-the-making/season-2/episode-5/38e815a-0119d4d25b2

International Dumpling Festival, 2018 for Toronto Nuit Blanche

“For this occasion, Vancouver-born, Philadelphia-based artist Ken Lum created a new work titled International Dumpling Festival (2018), a participatory installation disguised as a functioning night market, featuring seven food vendors that sold a selection of dumplings including Chinese wontons, Jamaican patties, Tibetan momos, Colombian empanadas, and Polish pierogis.

The work was integral to “The Things They Carried,” a main exhibition zone curated by Tairone Bastien that “reflects on the immigrant stories of Toronto.” Dumpling is a popular, globalized dish with myriad cultural variants, many of which have become iconic menu items in ethnic enclaves around the world. As Lum put it, dumpling is “an allegory of Toronto, with its working-class roots. It’s a peasant food, with immigration built right in.” Fittingly, the installation was situated on James Street, which was part of the Ward, formerly home to Toronto’s first diasporic Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Irish, and Black communities during the late 1890s and early 1900s. These communities were later relocated and the Ward, considered as a slum by many, was eradicated in order to make space for the construction of the Toronto City Hall and its surrounding facilities.” 

“Despite the work’s celebration of Toronto’s immigrant history, it ironically reflected a continued tendency not to see migrants and their cultures as distinct and worthy of appreciation beyond their superficial, consumable contributions. In between the trends of cultural consumption and recognition, where do the peoples to whom the commodified minority cultures belong position themselves in the larger socio-political structure? ” http://artasiapacific.com/Blog/RecapOfKenLumSInternationalDumplingFestival

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