The Ryerson Image Centre is showcasing photo exhibitions that explore historic and ongoing struggles for justice between people of colour and police forces.
The installations, presented collectively as Power to the People: Photography and Video of Repression and Black Protest, present images dating from the civil rights movement of the 1960s to 2016.
Gaëlle Morel, who is the RIC’s exhibitions curator and who also put together one of the installations in the exhibit, says Power to the People will give today’s generation a sense of earlier struggles.
“The idea is that if you want to change the present you have to be aware of the past,” she said. “It teaches younger generations about the past to understand what’s happening now and stand up for what you believe in.”
The RIC worked with the Black Artists’ Networks Dialogue to put together the show. BAND is an organization that supports artistic and cultural contributions of black artists and cultural workers.
The first of the five installations is at the entry to the RIC, where the Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall plays a video by American artist Adam Pendleton’s My Education, a Portrait of David Hilliard. Hilliard, a founding member of the Black Panther Party, recalls the account of a gunfight between the activists and police in Oakland, Calif. in 1968. He describes how police followed and surrounded the Panthers, initiating the attack which left one dead and many wounded.
Next to the large LED screen is a question by the artist to the viewer: “How does the past filter through the present and relate to a future dynamic?”
One of the other installations, Attica, USA 1971: Images and Sounds of a Rebellion, deals with the uprising at the Attica prison in New York State, one of the most significant events in the prisoners’ rights movement.
Some of the images in the installations are from Ryerson’s Black Star Collection. The collection consists of more than 290,000 black-and-white images, many of which deal with protests and civil rights.
The exhibit will stay at Ryerson until April 9.