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un/settled art installation centres Black womanhood at SFU's Vancouver Campus

January 29, 2021

At the busy downtown intersection of West Hastings and Richards, you will find a street-facing art exhibition of exceptional scale featuring a tribute to Breonna Taylor in the windows of Belzberg Library at SFU’s Vancouver campus.

In dialogue with the current social climate, un/settled combines poetry by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek with portraiture by Chantal Gibson, in collaboration with Mily Mumford and Adrian Bisek. Gibson is an award-winning writer and artist, as well as a university lecturer in SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology. Her collaborator, esteemed poet Okot Bitek, is the 2020 Ellen and Warren Tallman Writer-in-Residence with SFU’s Department of English and a 2021 Shadbolt Fellow.

A towering photo-poetic piece, un/settled literally drapes Black womanhood over 240 square feet of Belzberg Library’s streetfront windows. It centres Blackness - an identity often erased or maligned - in a hypervisible fashion that celebrates Black thought, creativity and joy while situated in the ongoing systematic violence against Black people, Indigenous people, and people of colour. As Okot Bitek puts it, “un/settled is about the inability to settle because of the systems that oppress and alienate people. It's also about the constant reminder that some people cannot be seen to be of these lands.”

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