green ribbon woven into the chainlink fence between the West Toronto Railpath and MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art

The main exhibit at MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art, when I was there a couple of weeks ago was ‘Acts of Erasure’.

“Acts of Erasure brings the two distinct artistic practices of Fatma Bucak and Krista Belle Stewart into dialogue. This pairing opens space for conversations around political identity concerning land and heritage, historical repression, and more.”   I’ve added this sentence because every review I’ve read of this exhibit start with these words that also appear on the MOCA website and on the wall in the gallery.

This exhibit was part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival that was planned for May 2020 but this being the year of Covid, it had to be rescheduled.

Photos covering the floor were the work of Krista Belle Stewart who is a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation in British Columbia.   They are part of ‘Truth to Material’ and were taken in Germany were there is a group of people like to dress up and play Indian. They call themselves Indianers.  Once you know that, the fact that they are on the floor and not on the walls makes a bit more sense.

two boots walking on a picture on the floor

calves and shoes of people standing on pictures on the floor of a gallery

a person walking on the floor, pictures on the floor

below: A dress made by one of the Indianers.

pictures on the floor of a gallery

The other artist, Fatma Bucak was born in Iskenderun, on the Turkish-Syrian border;  she identifies as both Turkish and Kurdish.  Her contribution to the exhibit is ‘A Study of Eight Landscapes’, an ongoing project.  Each photograph is a pair of objects.  Each object was collected at one side of a border.  This is an attempt to explore the dynamics of borders, their effects on people living near them, the politics that result, and other consequences of having borders.

below: left: “Too Heavy” and right: “In Splendid Isolation”

two pictures at a gallery, one on the floor and one hanging on the wall

From the MOCA website: “….confronts the contingency of border spaces and the tenuous interdependency that resides within them. To produce these still-life photographs, Bucak worked collaboratively with people living and working near and across borderlands. The composed objects collected from these sites explore mental and material realities of spaces where conditions of life are highly dependent on the entities on either side of a border. The photographs present a stark view of transitional landscapes, such as those between the United States and Mexico, Turkey and Armenia, and Syria and Turkey.”

I would love to have more of the story explained to me, such as, what the objects are, where they came from, and why the artist chose them.  Isn’t it difficult to have a dialogue about random items removed from even minimal context?

below: left: ‘There May be Doubts’, center: ‘A Border View’, right: ‘Undetermined Remains’.

three pictures at a gallery

The day that I was at MOCA, the ground floor was being prepared for ‘Archipelago’ by Taiwanese painter and conceptual artist Michael Lin.  The designs are based on Taiwanese and Indonesian textiles and are being painted by local artists.

a woman painting the floor

women painting on the floor of a gallery

A third exhibit, ‘Medusa’ was bring installed at the time and was closed to the public.

the word kiss is made with fabric woven into the chainlink fence

Acts of Erasure remains until January 2021
Archipelago remains until March 2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s