Pamila Matharu’s 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 connectivity. Interested in forms of feminist genealogies that give credit to what came before and using the archive as a forum for recognition, resilience and radical love, she looks back to the 1992 youth-led uprising on Yonge Street as a way of tracing new lines of connection across the history of Black-led arts programming in Toronto, drawing in those who inherit its legacy.
The 1992 Yonge Street incident was initially organized by the Black Action Defense Committee, as a 300-person uprising staged in protest against ongoing police brutality, and specifically in relation to the shooting and killing in Toronto of twenty-one-year-old Raymond Constantine Lawrence by a white, plain-clothed police officer, Constable Robert Rice. The Ontario Government at that time commissioned a report by the then special advisor of Race Relations (Stephen Lewis) that resulted in a series of recommendations regarding the pedagogical role of Black led arts and culture programming. An influx of funds was targeted toward the creation of youth-based initiatives and organizations, including the now legendary Fresh Arts and Fresh Elements.
This project looks at the social connections that carried forward, in particular to the radio pedagogies and forms of feminist media that emerged at this time. Looking at programs such as the CKLN-FM (Ryerson University), Matharu considers the ways in which they brought in voices and communities, typically left out of conventional cultural production. Sifting through public archives such as the Archives of Ontario and Toronto Arts Council Documents, Matharu will productively stage the gaps, erasures, and the various materials within such spaces as a form of transformative remembrance of socialities that did emerge at this time. This research will culminate as a short film, to be launched at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2021.
About Pamila Matharu:
Pamila Matharu (1973-) is a settler of north-west Panjabi, Indian descent, born in Birmingham, England, based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). A graduate of the Visual Arts and Fine Arts BEd programs from York University, she works primarily in visual arts, alternative education and cultural production. A recipient of the Toronto, Ontario and Canada Art Councils creation/production grants, she has screened and exhibited her work locally, regionally, nationally. Recently she was awarded the CONTACT Photo Festival’s 2020 Burtynsky Photobook Award, the 2019 Images Festival Homebrew Award and the 2019 Ontario Association of Art Galleries’ Exhibition of the Year, for her critically acclaimed first solo exhibit One of These Things Is Not Like The Other at A Space Gallery, Toronto (2019). She’s been a volunteer Board member for CARFAC Ontario, Gallery 44, Toronto Artscape, Images Festival, and SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre). Currently in research and development is Where Were You in ‘92?, a new project slated to debut in October 2021 at the Archives of Ontario an invitation by Archive I Counter-Archive, iterations will continue to unfold at the Or Gallery (Vancouver, BC) curated by Denise Ryner, and the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, ON), dramaturgy by Emelie Chhangur, through the spring and summer of 2022 respectively.