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Vues d'exposition © arcpixel - Freddy Arciniegas

Gestures on Portrayal
Luther Konadu
curator : Nasrin Himada
04/11 - 18/12



BLACK PORTRAITURE[S] Absent/ed Presence - online conference 14 au 16 octobre 2021


Samedi 16 octobre, 18 h EDT  

Gestures on Portrayal

Luther Konadu en conversation avec Nasrin Himada


In anticipation of Konadu’s solo exhibition at SBC Gallery in Montreal, this event highlights the artist’s larger body of work and the themes explored through his lens-based practice.


Luther Konadu is an artist, writer, and the editor
of the online publication Public Parking. His own writinghas appeared in Canadian Art, Backflash, and BorderCrossings. He was the Akimbo correspondent forWinnipeg, and the writer in residence at Gallery 44
in Toronto. He was commissioned by the New Yorker
magazine to do a portrait of the musician Roberto
Carlos Lange, who performs under the name Halado
Negro. He has won many prizes and awards including
BMO’s 1st Art!, the New Generation Photography
Award, the Salt Spring National Art Prize, and was
one of the recipients of the Sobey Art Award in 2020.
His photographic work was also featured in many
magazines including Aperture. Konadu’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, most recently a solo show at Dunlop Gallery in Regina, and a group show at Foam Museum in Amsterdam, he was also part of CONTACT in Toronto, where his photo work was featured as murals across Harbourfront Centre. Luther lives in Winnipeg on Treaty 1 Territory.


Nasrin Himada is a Palestinian writer and
curator currently based in Kingston Ontario, on
Anishnaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory. Their
writing on contemporary art has appeared in many
national contemporary art publications, including
Canadian Art, C Magazine, MICE, and Fuse. They have collaborated with film festivals and art institutions in Canada and the US, among them the CCA Wattis
Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Trinity
Square Video, Toronto; Fondation PHI pour l’art
contemporain, Montreal; and the Leonard & Bina
Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal. Nasrin’s recent project
For Many Returns typifies their current curatorial
interests. The series is designed as a way to explore
the possibilities of art writing as a relational act.
Since its debut at Dazibao in Montréal, it has toured
across Canada, the US and Europe. From 2019–21,
Nasrin held the position of curator at Plug In Institute
of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg on Treaty One
Territory. Currently, they hold the position of Associate
Curator at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston.




Nasrin Himada

Upon engaging with Luther Konadu’s installation  I immediately think of an entrance into a space  that is created or offered; it feels like the space  in which the image exists is also the space of  its making. In the space of the installation, we  are invited to look—an act often taken for  granted as an audience. Yet here, the invitation  to view the image’s composition, framing, and  construction feel far more direct. The viewer  becomes part of the process through the  simultaneous act of capture and construction.  What are the parameters of this invitation? What  is being questioned in this space when it comes  to the relationship between construction and  representation, between perception and position?  

In Konadu’s photography practice, the  position of the viewer is as complicated as  the image. The artist’s installations present  a type of workshop where images are being  made, unmade, and re-made; contextualized  and re-contextualized; formed and are in  formation as the “looking” is taking place.  

Through repetition, layering, cutting, collaging,  and the shifting of placement, Konadu considers  the possibilities inherent both in the perspective  of the viewer and of the subject being viewed.  In his installations, what is immediately noticeable  is the structure of the space: these are not  simply photographs, framed and hung on walls.  The images are indiscernible from the space that  holds them, and from the space that conditions  their existence. Both image and space form a  dynamic that brings into view a community, a  collective. We’re not looking as one, but as part of  many. This shift in power position re-configures the set and setting, and engages our encounter  with the image from a point of activation and  re-orientation. We are not the only ones looking.  We are complicit, but we are also empowered.  We’re in another place, one with the intention of  doing away with the image as a placeholder for  representation. Rather, the image, its apparatus,  and the individuals depicted all become part  of an ensemble orchestrating a gathering.  

Konadu’s practice has an architectural  component that emphasizes the power of  construction and design. He uses wood panels,  tables, and other devices to interrupt the  barrier of what would be inside or outside an  image. The frame is therefore not exhausted but  multiplied. Some photographs are framed, but  may hang low or on an angle. Other photographs  are without a frame entirely but remain  contained or held together by tape. Some fold,  leaking onto the floor, or overlay to create the  sensation of depth in space. The manipulation  of framing and dimension creates a spatial  effect leading the viewer’s body to orchestrate  movement differently, not a movement  dependent on passive viewing, but one that is  necessary for immersion and active looking.  

Through the process, structure, apparatus, and  materiality of the photograph, Konadu reveals  an intricate reality-in-the-making as it is being  captured. Capturing the moment through  diptychs, polyptychs, text, and re-photography  engages the viewer and the individual(s) depicted  simultaneously, creating an association binding  the viewer to the process rather than to the  individuals in the images. In relation, rather than  in opposition, an intimacy unfolds between  the depicted figure(s) and the viewer.

Konadu presents a critique of photography’s  historical association with social documentary,  breaking down its seemingly untouchable  evidentiary qualities. The photograph as  document archives and frames a historical  narrative in which a scene, a memory, an event  is memorialized; a subject is “known,” presenting  a view held from a dominant position. Rather,  Konadu’s showcasing of the process, building,  construction, and design of a photograph  constitute a collective imagining that invests  in both the figure and the viewer’s roles in  composing an image. Konadu’s process is one  that prioritizes a communal effort as impetus  for creating space and for transforming it.  

As in “Here Here”, a text that Konadu at times  includes in his installations which takes the  tone of an incantation and gestures toward  the processual—that which can be held in  contradiction and gets worked through in  order to image another world, is inseparable  from form, and form is contextual, conceptual,  and expressive of another image to come.  

This essay was originally published in Camerawork  (2021), a digital publication on Luther Konadu’s art practice co-produced by Hamilton Artists Inc. and  Images Festival. Visit: 


The SBC Contemporary Art Gallery partnered with Agnes Etherington Art Center to present a discussion between Luther Konadu and Nasrin Himada as part of the Black Portraitures lectures. A big thank you to them and all the partners!

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