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Recent work from W5 Art Collective


Alexandra Gelis
Buseje Bailey
Grace Channer
Margie Macdonald
Alexandra Majerus

Curated by Pamela Edmonds

January 18 – February 15, 2014

Opening Reception
Saturday, January 18, 2 – 5 pm

This group exhibition features multidisciplinary work from the Toronto-based artist collective W5 ART Collective. Drawing upon their individual and collective experiences as women of diverse immigrant origins, Buseje Bailey, Grace Channer, Alexandra Gelis, Margie Macdonald and Alexandra Majerus explore innovative artistic practices which act as visual and sonic mappings exploring cross-cultural histories, stories, places and environments. Investigating the relationship between landscape, migration, memory and social-political issues, together their work brings an awareness of how the interplay of movement and rootedness, be-longing and identity can be re-presented using new media and time-based technology, while focusing on the material conditions under which varied communities live, work and know.

Formed in 2011, the collective members have worked individually with community groups and organizations in an atmosphere of creativity and respect for differences for over 20 years. Drawing upon their experiences negotiating complex multicultural urban, rural and suburban environments, their mission states: “we recognize the interdisciplinary role that art plays in contemporary lives and fully embrace the radical changes of practicing art in the world today.”

Margie Macdonald’s art focuses on borders, both real and imagined, as well as conceptions of place and space related to issues of multicultural urban/suburban states of being that involve migrants but is not limited to them. Her interactive installation titled “In-Between, Phase II” presents an anonymous robotic figure as a symbol of transitory states and invisibility within urban and suburban sites.

Buseje Bailey’s “Deconstructing Access To and the Sustainability of Food” is a mixed media installation that touches upon personal and political issues raised by the migrant experience through relationships to food production and local farming, deconstructing and exploring sustainability and access in particular diets.

Alexandra Gelis’ practice incorporates photography, video and digital processes, using electronics and programming for intra-activity while emphasizing the role of the artist as multidisciplinary inquirer who explores diverse methodologies in fieldwork. Interested in unveiling relationships between landscape, history, people and geopolitics, her multimedia work “Lumbalú” documents a community in transition through recordings of a sacred Afro-Columbian funeral ritual in San Basilio de Palenque which has been maintained through traditions of singing, dance, performance and music.

Alexandra Majerus also explores questions of post-colonial subjectivity and displacement in her work, particularly as it relates to the Caribbean diaspora. Through photography and video she explores power dynamics and ideologies within the Caribbean’s massive tourist industry and its projected imagery within cultural Westernization.

Grace Channer’s visual art practice is also enveloped in diaspora and black aesthetic strategies using diverse interdisciplinary experimentation and research. “Archway” is a work influenced by a recent residency in India exploring the visual and cultural spaces in which communities actively participate, supporting the history of resistance since the 13th century. It relies on digital and animated experiences, conceptual installation techniques and the viewer/participant interaction.

The exhibition also includes an interactive sound sculpture installation entitled “ATRACING”. Comprised of previously recorded group interactions within the collective over the past two years, this work-in progress was designed to acknowledge the intersections of each artist’s practice as diverse contemporary women artists along with their collective creative interests.

Pamela Edmonds

Buseje Bailey works across a variety of media including photography, video, mixed media and installation. She earned her BFA at York University and her MFA at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Much of her work has focused on the hybridity of her art practice in relation to her African-Jamaican-Canadian experience and identity. Bailey’s work has been show nationally and internationally including most recently in Position As Desired/Exploring African Canadian Identity: Photographs from the Wedge Collection at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.

Grace Channer is a multi-media artist and animator whose work explores issues of race, gender, class and sexuality. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Queen’s University, a Post-graduate Animation/Filmmaking from Sheridan College, an MFA from York University, and is currently working towards a PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Brock University. Her film and video work has been screened in various international festivals including the Africa World Documentary Film Festival, Mpenzie Black Women’s International Film Festival and Cineffable Lesbian Film and Video Festival. Selected exhibitions in Toronto include A Space Gallery, The Power Plant and Gallery 101 in Ottawa.

Alexandra Gelis holds an MFA degree from York University and is currently working towards a PhD in Environmental Studies also from York. In her current research, Gelis emphasizes the role of the artist as multidisciplinary inquirer who explores diverse methodologies in fieldwork. Her practice incorporates photography, video and digital processes, using electronics and programming for interactivity. Her work has been shown internationally in venues including Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Argentina and the United States. She has developed curatorial projects, video screenings, and programs for festivals in Latin America and Canada.

Margie Macdonald’s interdisciplinary practice focuses on photography, print media and sculpture but is not limited to these mediums. Her work explores conceptual as well as physical borders, developing visual narratives that speak to these themes. She holds an MFA from York University and a BFA from the University of Toronto and participated most recently in the group exhibition Liminality at Gallery 1313 in Toronto.

Alexandra Majerus is a multidisciplinary artist who works primarily in photography, video performance and installation. A partial Caribbean background and repeated migrations between Barbados, France and Canada brought an awareness to her work of how the institutionalization of cultural practices into norms plays out in people’s lives. Majerus has a BFA Honours from York University and has exhibited in Canada, Barbados, Bulgaria and Trinidad.

Pamela Edmonds is an independent visual and media arts curator based in Toronto. She is interested in developing contemporary art projects that explore the politics of representation. She is a founding member of ‘Third Space Art Projects’, a curatorial collective co-founded in 2009 with Sally Frater.

The artists thank the OAC Exhibition Assistance Program for the support of this exhibition.

WARC’s Curatorial Research Library, as well as our admin space, is now wheel-chair accessible through the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation

WARC Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of our members, volunteers and the following funders:
Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Trillium Foundation