Special Events

Artist File Fair

Artist files in the Library & Archives


@ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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This is a free event
Special Events

Artist File Fair

Saturday, January 30, 2021 1 PM

EMILIA-AMALIA and the Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives at the Art Gallery of Ontario invite BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), women, queer, trans and non-binary artists to contribute to the AGO’s collection of more than 14,000 artist files that document the practices of artists in Canada since 1912.

This 3rd edition of the File Fair will feature Artist Erika DeFreitas and Curator Lillian O’Brien Davis in conversation about the work of attempting to share space, unearth and pay their respects to Black women whose presence has been erased through the narrativization of euro-centric art history. Traces of the existence of Other lives are not deemed important enough to be included in the canon of Western art history and archaeology. Therefore, seeking evidence of these traces—of typically non-white histories—consists of looking for the smallest clues, unearthing the forgotten fragments preserved by sheer luck or chance from aging empires.

With a focus on the Art Gallery of Ontario’s recently acquired painting Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom, DeFreitas and O’Brien Davis will consider what it means to look for anonymous or unidentified women in artwork and whether or not they want to be found.

In addition to the conversation, the library invites emerging and established artists alike to start an artist file or contribute materials to their existing file. Participants can build a file by completing an online questionnaire about their work and submitting copies of exhibition invitations, pamphlets, press releases, and any other ephemera related to their practice or exhibition history. Visit the Artist File webpage for more information on the collection and how to contribute.

Erika DeFreitas is a Scarborough-based artist whose practice includes the use of performance, photography, video, installation, textiles, works on paper, and writing. Placing an emphasis on process, gesture, the body, documentation, and paranormal phenomena, she works through attempts to understand concepts of loss, post-memory, inheritance, and objecthood. DeFreitas’ work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She was the recipient of the TFVA 2016 Finalist Artist Prize, the 2016 John Hartman Award, and longlisted for the 2017 Sobey Art Award. DeFreitas holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto.

Lillian O’Brien Davis is a curator and writer based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (Treaty 4 Territory). She has Curated projects at Jackman Humanities Institute (2018), Art Museum at the University of Toronto (2019), MacKenzie Art Gallery (2020, 2021), Susan Hobbs Gallery (2020) and School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba (2021). Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, BlackFlash, Brooklyn Rail and Peripheral Review.

EMILIA-AMALIA is an intersectional, intergenerational, feminist experimental working group, initiated in Toronto in 2016. The group takes its name and structure from the practice of affidamento—the relationship in which one woman entrusts herself symbolically to another. As part of the 150 Hours School, Emilia and Amalia were ‘entrusted’ to one another and through the exchange of authority and writing, their differences became one another’s point of reference for the world.

The group uses informal knowledge sharing and experimental writing to cultivate relationships of mentorship, collaboration and reciprocal indebtedness between generations of artists, writers, thinkers, curators and practitioners. Our writing and reading groups, film screenings, publications, public talks and workshops are intimate exchanges through which we centre the personal and the political in a desire to activate the undetonated potential of the past. Within our partnerships, we create space and redistribute resources to address feminist histories that have been obscured or overlooked. EMILIA-AMALIA is initiated by Cecilia Berkovic, Yaniya Lee, Annie MacDonell, Gabrielle Moser, Zinnia Naqvi, Leila Timmins, cheyanne turions, Joy Xiang and Shellie Zhang.

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