Deanna Bowen: Black Drones in the Hive

May 25 - August 25, 2024

Curated by Crystal Mowry

Organized by the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.
Circulated in partnership with the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina.

For more than twenty years, Deanna Bowen’s practice has evolved from its roots in experimental documentary video into a complex mapping of power as seen in public and private archives. Research and exhibitions are rarely mutually exclusive modes for Bowen, in part because her subjects are capable of revealing new perspectives over time. Whether it is through strategies of re-enactment or dense constellations of archival material, Bowen’s work traces her familial history within a broader narrative of Black survival in Canada and the United States.

Originally produced by the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Black Drones in the Hive unfolds in a series of visual chapters to reveal the strategic erasures which have enabled Canadian canons such as the Group of Seven to exist without question or complication. The exhibition draws its title from a racist assessment of William Robinson, a Black journeyman, as written by a city official in Berlin, Ontario (now Kitchener) in the records of the Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge (1869–1950). This sentiment echoes the centuries-long project of devaluing Black labour and the promise of autonomy.  Combing historical texts, petitions, and archives ranging from the local to international, Bowen weaves together narrative threads of migration, power networks, and hierarchies of remembrance.

The exhibition was produced with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.


Exhibition and touring support provided by the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.



Image: Deanna Bowen, The branded hand of Captain Jonathan Walker, 1845, 2020. Inkjet print on archival paper. Courtesy of the artist and MKG127.

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