The Power Plant

Spazio Disponibile

Dawit L. Petros

Past Exhibition

Jan 24 – Jul 28 2020

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2019


WINTER 2020 PRESENTING SPONSOR

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LEAD DONOR

Lonti Ebers

SUPPORT DONORS

Jennifer Grant & David Dattels

DONORS

Yvonne & David Fleck Dr. Kenneth Montague & Ms. Sarah Aranha

INTERNATIONAL ARTS PARTNER

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SUPPORTED BY

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ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR THE TOUR PROVIDED BY:

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GUEST CURATOR

IRENE CAMPOLMI

ASSISTANT CURATOR

AMIN ALSADEN, NANCY MCCAIN & BILL MORNEAU CURATORIAL FELLOW

Dawit L. Petros presents a new body of work underlining the unexplored links between colonization, migrations and modernism. Spazio Disponibile – Italian for 'Available Space’ – scrutinizes historical gaps in European memory, particularly that of modern Italy. Alluding to vacant advertising sections that appeared in Rivista Coloniale, a widely circulated early 20th century magazine and the official organ of the Italian colonial project, the title is also a reference to the colonial gaze that viewed the lands of Africa as ‘available’ space to occupy and exploit.

Petros’s art reflects his research into the complex layers of colonial and postcolonial histories connecting East Africa and Europe. Employing archival materials collected over a period of seven years, documents that attest to the Italian presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Petros has developed an expansive suite of works that reflect on the lingering effects of colonial memory. Composed of a multimedia installation of serigraphs, photographs, sculptural works, a film and soundscape, the works highlight the ties between the contemporary resurgence of nationalism and a suppressed colonial past.

The exhibition extends the artist’s ongoing project, The Stranger’s Notebook – the result of a thirteen-month journey exploring mobilities within Africa and across the Mediterranean – to focus on built forms including architecture, industries and infrastructures, as well as questions of labour, the pitfalls of nationhood and intertwined narratives of migration. A newly commissioned film on the Casa d’Italia, a community centre built in 1936 in Montreal, probes the building’s graphic and architectural language to unpack its complicated fascist symbolism. Examining parallels between African histories and European modernism, the exhibition also investigates how objects often operate as texts in the construction and transmission of cultural ideologies. Petros looks at how these objects often obscure power differentials while connecting people across borders, binding disparate geographies such as Italy, Eritrea and Canada.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, Spazio Disponibile, 2020. Installation view: The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

Dawit L. Petros, A constant re-telling of the future in the past, 2020. Archival monochrome pigment prints, 3 prints, each 8 x 72 in. Installation view: Spazio Disponibile, The Power Plant, Toronto, 2020. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid.

LEARN MORE

Watch Dawit L. Petros's Interview with The Power Plant here

WINTER 2020 PROGRAM GUIDE

Click here to read more about The Power Plant's Winter 2020 exhibitions and programming for the season!

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EXPANDING ACCESS

Listen to Dawit L. Petros's exhibition wall text here:

READING ROOM

Our reading list helps expand on ideas and themes of The Power Plant's exhibitions. Visit the gallery to view Dawit L. Petros's selection.

A Stranger's Pose – by Emmanuel Iduma

Recent Histories: Contemporary African Photography and Video Art – by Daniela Baumann, Joshua Chuang and Oluremi C. Onabanjo

Architecture in Asmara: Colonial Origin and Postcolonial Experience – edited by Peter Volgger and Stegan Graf

Pre-Occupied Space. Re-Mapping Italy's Transnational Migration and Colonial Legacy – by Teresa Fiore

About the Artist


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. These concerns derive from lived experiences: Petros is an Eritrean emigrant who spent formative years in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya before settling in central Canada. The overlapping cultures, voices, and tenets of this constellation produced a dispersed consciousness, global and transnational in stance and outlook.

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