AGO: Zak Ové and Sunday School

The last day of Black History Month. Headed back to view two exhibitions; British-Trinidadian Zak Ové‘s sculpture “Moko Jumbie” and the Toronto creative agency Sunday School and their presentation of “Feels Like Home”.

“Moko Jumbie”, 2021, mixed media is located in a spectacular spot in the Galleria Italia on the second floor. It stands 18 feet tall in a brightly lit corner that gives it sparkle. It was commissioned by the AGO.

The Moko Jumbie is known as the stilt dancer – a folk character from the Caribbean; although it originated in West Africa. The word Moko is derived from a West African god. Jumbie is “ghost”. The stilts meant the “protector of villages” could see evil coming sooner than ordinary humans. He could dance in the streets all day, collecting money from second floor balconies.

A young Zak Ové was filming the Trinidad carnival for a documentary, he was inspired by the emancipatory joy of the festival and began creating art as a reflection of that feeling.

He blends contemporary imagery with traditional folklore and stories. Note the gold Air Jordan’s on this Moko Jumbie’s feet.

The figure itself is 10 feet tall mounted on bamboo stilts. The right hand is an open palm decorated with rings similar to the Venda Peoples of South Africa.

The left hand is clenched into a fist and is adorned with rings similar to the neck rings of the Ndebele Tribe of South Africa.

Encircling the figure is a plume of teal and gold banana leaves. When the guard wasn’t looking I laid down on the platform to get this shot from underneath.

Note the placement of the arms – held up in a “I surrender” position.

Next to this striking figure is the “Feels Like Home” exhibit. I didn’t have to walk far to get to it. Had to go through the Henry Moore gallery. Maybe I’ll visit his work next time.

Along one wall is featured O’Shane Howard’s “Jump Ball: Toronto” 2019. “Home is not restricted to private spaces. Home is unity”

Contrasting the open space of a modern basketball court with the men dressed in Ghanaian Kente cloth and Senegelese boubou. For me it is also a reminder of the diversity of cultures that co-exist in Toronto.

However, western style clothing also conveys the sense of unity.

“Ten Toes Down” 2021, Kreshonna Keane.

“Home is the body. Home is self-expression.”

Reflections of a black ballerina in her home.

“The Hair Appointment” 2018, Jeremy Rodney-Hall. “Home is a place, our people, our surrondings. Home feels familiar.

This piece really evoked a sense of home for me. The little girl braiding her doll’s hair while sitting between her mother’s legs to get her own hair braided. It is a large piece, leaning against the wall. According to Sunday School, there has been a conversation in the black community about natural hair braiding – something the media is less focused on these days.

For this series of photographs, appointments were made at hair salons – which were a home within the community. On the Sunday School’s website there are The Hair Appointment emojis you can download.

Along another wall is “Jump Ball: Mighty Migrations”, 2021. Joshua Kissi. There have been 5 instalments of the Jump Ball series. The latest is Jump Ball: Lagos which explores women’s basketball.

Mighty Migrations is about connecting people, regardless of race or class. In this photo, an extended family gathers together with the centre focus on the young woman holding the Wilson basketball.

Trophy’s can become part of a home. In this photo she proudly displays the accomplishments of her family.

About this time I was feeling the exertion on my back. I wanted to explore more but “listen to what your body is telling you” has now become my mantra. I decided to head down to the member’s lounge in the Grange. I’ve only seen the Grange from the outside, along Grange park.

They have a new menu each month. I decided on the Pesto Flatbread. The drinks menu had both Mad Tom’s IPA and Waterloo Dark. I had just finished Dry February. I have my liver scan in March and was reducing the fat content in preparation for that.

However, I ordered the Waterloo Dark as a reward for the monthly abstinence. The hostess offered me seating near 3 magnificent (and authentic) paintings – a Lauren Harris, an Emily Carr but I chose Paul Peel’s “After the Bath”, 1890. The warm and toasty feeling of the painting just added to the relaxing vibe.

I felt much better after this rest but I had to head home knowing I’ll be back shortly with another post for you to peruse.