Some of Canada’s earliest Black settlers were enslaved people yet their histories, dating back 400 years are conspicuously missing from the national narrative. WANTED confronts this erasure by presenting a visual and embodied archive of slavery in Canada. Created in collaboration with Camal Pirbhai, WANTED draws from detailed descriptions in “runaway slave” and “slave for sale” ads posted by Canadian slave owners in early newspapers. Rather than portraying enslaved people in the past where their lives are constrained by the violence and inhumanity of institutionalized bondage, we presented them in the future space of possibility they dreamed about as they set off on their journey towards freedom. At first glance the photos appear to be fashion photos but the text on the images is be taken from the old newspaper ads displayed below them. The video presents Peggy Pompadour with her teenage son Jupiter entering the posh King Edward Hotel. Her owner, Peter Russell had placed an ad in the Upper Canada Gazette trying to sell the mother and son had previously imprisoned them for resisting slavery. Ironically, the site of the former jail occupied the space where the King Edward Hotel now stands.
WANTED was shown from January 31 – May 10, 2015 at Art Gallery of Windsor as part of the exhibition, Border Cultures Three : Security/Surveillance