To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat
Esmaa Mohamoud (Toronto)
September 14 - January 5, 2020
Curated by Matthew Kyba
To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat is a celebration of diversity and an urgent call to action around issues of racial marginalization. Taking inspiration from the African American writer Ralph Ellison, artist Esmaa Mohamoud explores the ways in which Black bodies at once appear―and yet are rendered metaphorically invisible―within the spaces they navigate. She aims to re-examine understandings of contemporary Blackness, questioning the definitions of Blackness as a colour and shade, and/or as a societal or cultural construction.
Mohamoud draws on the modern industry of professional sports, which she equates with a covert form of neo-slavery. The London, Ontario-born artist transforms athletic equipment and symbols to illustrate pervasive, discriminatory behaviours and attitudes based on race, class, gender, and sexuality. She examines collective and individual struggle, focussing on the homogenization of bodies within high-level athletics, and the enforced playout of competitive violence between Black subjects. Through sculpture, photography, video, and installation, she investigates how high-level athletics operate as sites of corporate profit and discrimination.