Prefix ICA » Movers and Makers

May 1 to July 17, 2021

Movers and Makers
Aaron Jones, Christina Leslie, Dainesha Nugent-Palache and Bidemi Oloyede

Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art is pleased to present Movers and Makers, a group exhibition featuring new photographic work by four early-career Toronto-based artists: Aaron Jones, Christina Leslie, Dainesha Nugent-Palache and Bidemi Oloyede. Curated by Betty Julian, the exhibition is a core exhibition of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.

While the past eighteen months have had a devastating impact on many people, it has been especially hard for those of the Black diaspora, as the two overlapping catastrophes of racism and the pandemic have taken a profound toll. Movers and Makers speaks to the challenges of the present moment by invoking a desired future of Black optimism. It does so by furthering the goal of its precursor Movers and Shakers (2018) to provide a much-needed exhibition opportunity for local early-career artists, while critically shifting toward Black artists who address their subjectivity through artistic strategies of photographic experimentation.

Aaron Jones uses collage to express his perspectives on art and contemporary culture in relation to his evolving sense of self. His techniques of constructing, deconstructing and re- creating with paper-on-paper yield works that are multilayered in visual and experiential meaning. His most recent work plays with the visual language of abstraction, while emphasizing the presence and power of the human body.

Christina Leslie works with historical photographic methods in an artistic response to the predominance of the digital in contemporary photography. Influenced by art history and responding to the colonial gaze, she produces intimate pinhole portraits of family and friends. These portraits express the beauty and humanity of those who are often overlooked.

Dainesha Nugent-Palache experiments with colour, light and domestic space to create still lifes that depict the real and the unreal qualities of comfort and alienation. Her evocative images pay homage to her family and her ancestors, as she employs objects to share narratives of belonging and separation.

Bidemi Oloyede uses analogue black-and-white photography to explore his position as an observer and a participant in public protests. His images capture the collective energy of the marches for social justice held in the spring of 2020, which demanded an end to anti-Black racism and pleaded for a more peaceful and equitable future.

Together, the four artists in Movers and Makers open up the possibilities for photography as art in the twenty-first century. They reimagine the aesthetic use of black-and-white photography, push the signifying power of colour photography and expand upon traditional approaches to portraiture in order to challenge the aesthetic, conceptual and theoretical working assumptions of lens- based artistic creation today.

The exhibition, which was mounted on May 1, 2021, but delayed by the pandemic restrictions, opens to the public on Saturday, July 3, 2021, at Prefix, located at 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 124, Toronto. Gallery hours are from Wednesday to Saturday, 12 PM to 5 PM, and by appointment. Admission is free. The exhibition continues until Saturday, July 17, 2021.

Prefix is following a strict regimen of cleaning and other protocols in order to ensure the health and safety of our staff and visitors. In accordance with Step Two of the Roadmap to Re-opening of the province of Ontario, the gallery is limited to 25% capacity, or a maximum of eight visitors. Physical distancing and mask wearing/face covering are required.

The artworks in the exhibition, as well as our publications, are available for sale. Price lists are available onsite at the gallery, or upon request.

About the artists
Aaron Jones is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto. He graduated with a BA from OCAD University (Toronto) and is an active member of the BAU Collective (Toronto). Often using found imagery, he works with different forms of collage to build characters and spaces that engage with the complexities and nuances of his upbringing. Recent exhibitions include Mercer Union (Toronto), Nia Centre for the Arts (Toronto), Oakville Galleries (Oakville, ON), YYZ Artists’ Outlet (Toronto) and Doris McCarthy Gallery (Toronto), the latter in partnership with the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. His work is included in the collections of the Ryerson Image Centre (Toronto) and Wedge Curatorial Projects (Toronto). He is represented by Zalucky Contemporary (Toronto).

Christina Leslie, born 1983 in Toronto, earned her BFA from OCAD University (Toronto) and is presently pursuing her MFA at SCAD: The University for Creative Careers (Georgia). Her photographic practice primarily revolves around the themes of identity, immigration, marginalization, memory, race, and her West-Indian heritage. Her photographs have been featured at the Art Gallery of Windsor (Windsor, ON), Glasgow Gallery of Photography (Glasgow), Pier 21 (Halifax, NS), Real Art Ways, (Hartford, CT) and Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), among other venues. Most recently, her work was presented on billboards for the Capture Festival (Vancouver) and published in Murze magazine.

Dainesha Nugent-Palache, through performative video and photographic works, explores the dichotomies and paradoxes inherent in representations of Afro-Caribbean femininities. With an exuberant approach to colour and display, she often negotiates the glamour and excess inherent in the visual cultures of capitalism. She graduated from the photography programme at OCAD University (Toronto), where she was the recipient of the Dorothy Hoover Research Award and the OCAD University Photography Faculty and Friends Award. Her work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Gallery TPW (Toronto) and Truck Contemporary (Calgary), as well as in venues in New York, Finland and Vienna.

Bidemi Oloyede is an emerging street and portrait photographer who captures the energy and emotion of social landscapes using predominantly black-and-white film. His impulsive documentary style is a reflection of the interaction or inner dialogue between the photographer and the subject. He is invested in the physicality of film—its historical legacy and its chemical context—and the laborious process of traditional darkroom techniques to expose the realities of the everyday. Originally from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and now based in Toronto, Oloyede holds a BFA in Photography from OCAD University (Toronto).

About the curator
Betty Julian is an off-reserve citizen of Sipekne’katnik First Nation (Indian Brook First Nation) in Nova Scotia. A curator of contemporary art, she has had a longstanding engagement with Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art (Toronto), as a founding member of the advisory council for Prefix Photo magazine, as a member of the curatorial council from 2004–18, and as adjunct curator from 2019–20. In the latter capacities, she curated the group exhibitions Movers and Shakers and Trade Marks, as well as solo exhibitions by Renée Green, Nadia Myre, Lyla Rye and Lorna Simpson. Currently, she is the curator of Prefix ICA.

For their support of Movers and Makers, Prefix gratefully acknowledges our presentation partner, the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. Prefix also gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Arts Council, Business for the Arts, and the Toronto Arts Council with funding from the City of Toronto.

Photo: Aaron Jones, detail from MJ2K (2021). Collage wall work. Courtesy the artist.

For more information, print-ready images or to schedule an interview with the artists or curator, please contact 416-591-0357 or