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Four black panels with three of them showing various structures in black and white

Online Symposium: Spectres of History

A symposium that brought together responses to interrogations of mobility and colonization found in Dawit L. Petros' artistic practice.
10:00am - 3:00pm
Location Online (Zoom)
Price Free

Spectres of History was a half-day symposium that featured artists, curators, writers, and historians who took up the propositions presented by Dawit L. Petros’ recent AGG exhibition, Prospetto a Mare. Probing themes of migration, the archive, knowledge production, labour, and technology that are intertwined within Petros’ work, speakers addressed 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 offered ways of thinking through and beyond modernism’s authority.

Prospetto a Mare (previously on view at AGG from October 21, 2021 – April 14, 2022) focused on how both mobility and colonization have informed diasporic experiences and stories of migrancy. Referencing archival materials such as photographs, journals, and other publications, the artist has created an interwoven body of work in photography, video, and printmaking that explores a complicated history that is little-known in the West – Italy’s occupation colonization of East Africa, including Petros’ country of origin, Eritrea – as well as its postcolonial and transnational legacies.

Image details: Dawit L. Petros, Spectre (Floating Dock) (detail), 2021, archival pigment prints, CNC router etching, and smoked gray Plexiglass


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

Speaker Biographies

Shiben Banerji

Shiben Banerji is a trained architect, city planner, historian, and author of Lineages of the Global City, for which he received a Mellon Foundation fellowship in the urban humanities, a Graham Foundation publication grant, and a Mitchell Award. He is currently working on two book-length contributions to the history and theory of rhetoric. Shiben is an Associate Professor and Design History Coordinator at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mary Walling Blackburn

Mary Walling Blackburn is the founder of the Anhoek School, a pedagogical experiment, in Brooklyn, NY, and WMYN, a pirate feminist radio station. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the University of California San Diego; Wichita State University, KS; Sala Diaz, San Antonio, TX; and Southern Exposure, San Francisco; among other locations. Walling Blackburn’s writing publications include Afterall, BOMB, Cabinet, e-flux journal, Pastelegram, and Grey Room.

Julie Crooks

Julie Crooks is Curator, Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the AGO where she has curated Fragments of Epic Memory (2021), Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires (2018) and Free. Black. North (2017). Prior to joining the AGO in 2017, Julie Crooks curated exhibitions for many organizations including BAND (Black Artists Networks in Dialogue) and the Royal Ontario Museum’s Of Africa project. She holds a PhD from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Naeem Mohaiemen

Naeem Mohaiemen researches utopia-dystopia slippage in the Muslim world(s) after 1945. He is coediting, with Eszter Szakaćs, the forthcoming anthology Solidarity Must Be Defended (Tranzit, Budapest, 2022). Mohaiemen is Associate Professor of Visual Arts and Concentration Head of Photography at Columbia University, New York.

Dawit L. Petros

Dawit L. Petros is a visual artist, researcher and educator. His work is informed by studies of global modernisms, theories of diaspora, and postcolonial studies. Throughout the past decade, he has focused on a critical re-reading of the entanglements between colonialism and modernity. Petros installs photographs, moving images, sculptural objects, and sound work according to performative, painterly, or site responsive logics. Moving between the works echoes the extensive travel taken to produce them; while recurrent visual or formal devices quietly indicate the complex backdrops against which his projects are set.

Ming Tiampo

Ming Tiampo is Professor of Art History, and co-director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University, Ottawa. She focuses on transcultural models and histories that provide new structures for understanding and reconfiguring the global. Tiampo is a member of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational Advisory Board, a fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, and a founding member of TrACE, the Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange network, among others.

Lisa Volpe

Lisa Volpe is the Associate Curator, Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Before arriving in Houston, she was the Curator of the Wichita Art Museum where she oversaw all areas of the museum’s collection. Additionally, she held various curatorial roles at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA), and fellowships at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Volpe’s expert knowledge of modern and contemporary photography is reflected in her creative record of exhibitions and publications.

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