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Announcement
May 24, 2022

Spectres of History

Art Gallery of Guelph

Dawit L. Petros, Spectre (Floating Dock) (detail), 2021. Archival pigment prints, CNC router etching, and smoked gray Plexiglass. Courtesy of the artist.

Spectres of History | Online Symposium
Thursday, May 26, 10am–3pm
Free; for more information and to register, visit here

Organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph (AGG), Spectres of History is a half-day symposium that features artists, curators, writers, and historians who take up the propositions presented by the gallery's recent exhibition Dawit L. Petros: Prospetto a mare, focusing on how both mobility and colonization have informed diasporic experiences and stories of migrancy. Referencing archival and documentary materials, Petros' interwoven body of work in photography, video, and printmaking explores the complex history of Italy’s occupation and colonization of East Africa – including Petros’ country of origin, Eritrea – as well as its postcolonial and transnational legacies.

With the 1933 transatlantic flight of seaplanes from Italy to the United States deployed by Mussolini as the motif around which the exhibition is centred, the artist alludes to the ways in which the mythologizing of notions of progress, inherent to Eurocentric narratives of modernity, obscure the often detrimental effects on those who are located in the Global South. Connecting past to present, the exhibition also points to the diverse ways that landscapes today remain entwined within this politics of space with its asymmetrical assertions of power.

Probing themes of migration, the archive, knowledge production, labour, and technology that are engaged within Petros’ work, the symposium will address the cultural and historical matrices that result from the pursuit of empire, the ways in which actions of the past re-emerge in the present, as well as offering ways of thinking through and beyond modernism’s authority. Speakers include Dawit L. Petros (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) in conversation with Shiben Banerji (School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Mary Walling Blackburn, Julie Crooks (Art Gallery of Ontario), Naeem Mohaiemen (Columbia University), Ming Tiampo (Carleton University), as well as Lisa Volpe (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston).

Presented by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Arts Across Canada program of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Symposium schedule:
10am Keynote presentation

Dawit L. Petros, artist, researcher, and educator (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
Shiben Banerji, architect, city planner, and historian (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

11am Decentering modernism
Ming Tiampo, curator and academic (Carleton University)
Shiben Banerji, architect, city planner, and historian (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

12pm Break

12:30pm Photography and knowledge production
Julie Crooks, Curator of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora (Art Gallery of Ontario)
Lisa Volpe, Associate Curator of Photography (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

1:30pm Troubling archives
Naeem Mohaiemen, filmmaker, writer, and academic (Columbia University)
Mary Walling Blackburn, artist, critic, and writer

2:30pm Closing reflections
Shiben Banerji, architect, city planner, and historian (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Art Gallery of Guelph
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12–5 pm. Accessible.
E info [​at​] artgalleryofguelph.ca | T 519-837-0010

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