Yung Yemi: Holding Space

Opening Reception: Thursday, January 17th 6-9pm Exhibition Dates: January 17-February 16 2019 Location: Project Gallery, 1210 Dundas St E

Project Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Yung Yemi running concurrently with Noah Brown at our Dundas gallery.

In this body of work, Adeyemi Adegbesan explores the double entendre of minority bodies holding their space physically and figuratively in a Eurocentric world. Through an afro-futurist lens Adegbesan responds to a society in which so much of contemporary black culture is positioned in response to dominant culture as either an outcome or a rebuttal to a history of struggle. Influenced by icons such as Octavia Butler, W.EB Du Bois, Bell Hooks, and Cornel West, Adegbesan’s work is also a process of searching for his own space as a person of mixed African and European descent. Marrying these concepts and discoveries Adegbesan aims to challenge the misrepresentation of African history in Western society.

“Afrofuturism creates an undefined space that allows black people to exist separate from traditional narratives. Following in the Pan-Africanist tradition, my work is a merging of westernized 'black' culture and traditional African culture. Centuries of colonialism have created a gap between these constructs of blackness and Pan-Africanism seeks to reconcile them. To me, this goes hand in hand with Afrofuturism because it’s easiest to do that in an undefined space.

African history as it relates to the rest of the world has been mislabeled and misrepresented for centuries, which leaves a general lack of awareness and lack of appreciation for the rest of the world. That lack of appreciation directly undermines the cultural and economic significance of what Africa has to offer. In North America that history has systematically been withheld and concealed. For all societies, history is built layer by layer. Each generation stands on the shoulders of the last to achieve new success. History is a means of transferring knowledge and in a very direct sense of transferring wealth. For people of African descent, there's an added barrier in this process because so many of us have fractured histories. We have to search harder and do more work to discover the foundations on which we are to build the next layers of our history.”

Adeyemi Adegbesan is a Toronto based photographic artist whose practice aims to examine the intersectionality of black identity. Reflecting on blackness through pre-colonial – colonial - present day and future timelines, across regions, religions, varying levels of income, and political lines; Adegbesan interrogates the dichotomy of the richness of black experiences with the imposed societal homogeneity of ‘Blackness’. Through his work Adegbesan pulls from these varying elements to create Afro-futuristic portraits that embody history, future, and culture all in one.