A Richmond-based artist wanted to move away from traditional “institutional” artists talks – and the politics of artists talks - while promoting a mail art program called I spy... a disposable camera project.
The speaker series is curated by Nadia Mahamoor, a first-generation Sri-Lankan-Malay multidisciplinary artist who is currently a fourth-year industrial design student at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Reflecting on her research about curation, the Richmond-based artist wanted to be more inclusive when setting up the talks, rather than organizing a reading and focusing on a specific type of practice.
“Any artist should be able to present... Whatever (they feel) comfortable with, they can present it in any way,” said Mahamoor.
She wanted to explore different formats for the event, such as auditory presentations, not necessarily visual presentations.
The speaker series features three artists who are new to the I spy... series. Each artist has picked a past participant's photo and prompt and tied it into their talks.
The first two talks have already taken place, and a third one will be held on Thursday.
The artists featured were Izzy Cenedese, a musician who presented their music and lyrics, and Raine Bongon, a screenwriter, script analyst and poet, who discussed her writing practice.
The final talk on Thursday is by Ella White, a Gitxaala Nation Tsimshian and Japanese artist and writer who specializes in graphite, film photography and poetry. Her poetry “incorporates themes of colonialism, sexual assault, and femininity,” according to the event’s website.
White’s talk will focus on the themes of her art practice, especially her personal narrative.
“A lot of times I find there’s politics in curation – like who has the right to say what, and who am I to choose and filter,” said Mahamoor. She wanted to avoid making judgments on whose voices should be heard.
“I wanted a diverse amount of stories and narratives,” she added.
The show, called I Spy…a disposable camera project, is a mail-art program, that took place in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its physical distancing restrictions.
A disposable camera was mailed to each artist with a unique text prompt, and then the artists were asked to take photos based on the texts. Nine unedited photos from each roll were showcased online.
For those unable to attend the event or are interested in revisiting the talks, recordings of the three talks will be available online at a later date.
Mahamoor hopes that those attending the talks will gain a better understanding of the I spy... project.
“I thought the I spy... project was a window into someone else’s life. So basically, each talk is a window into someone else’s life and I felt like I got to know them a little better,” she said.