Topographies is a new body of work by Winnipeg-based artist Anna Binta Diallo, exploring map-making and world-building. Inspired by the rich visual histories and formal qualities of maps, this new installation explores the metaphoric and symbolic possibilities of representation. If a map is a translation of the important elements and characteristics of a particular place during a moment in time, this exhibition asks, what happens when the view is expanded? How do you contain a multitude of perspectives across geographies, times, and cultures? What richness is revealed through these layered forms of meaning-making?
For Topographies Diallo employs a personal archive of historical and outdated maps to re-interpret them as the basis for a new body of sculptural works. Exploring the sedimentary layers that form various imagined terrains, the work builds on this concept as a metaphor for the layered histories, material cultures, and human/non-human flourishing that happens within a place over time. Using layers of Plexiglas, the hung panels form large-scale topographies, consisting of cut-out shapes, textures, and found imagery, interpreted as vertical landscapes that include fossilizations of visual information, and clues of human habitation. Employing the use of light, space, layering, and depth, these new works are a material departure from Diallo’s recent work, proposing new ways to convey a narrative that continues to expand on previous research on folklore, language, history, and transcultural identity.
By assembling imagery from a diverse set of archival sources, this immersive installation maps a new world, evoking themes of place-making and stewardship, as well as the consequences of colonial histories and conquest, divisions, and ownership. Together, the works in Topographies explore how our perception of land and ground can transform, interwoven with our experiences and history, mutating and morphing like the earth’s crust.
View a digital copy of the publication for this exhibition here.
Anna Binta Diallo is a multidisciplinary visual artist who explores themes of memory and nostalgia to create unexpected works about identity. She was born in Dakar (Senegal, 1983), grew up in Saint-Boniface (Manitoba), and lived more than fifteen years in Montreal/Tiohtiá:ke/Mooniyang. She completed her BFA at the University of Manitoba’s School of Fine Arts (2006) and received her MFA from the Transart Institue in Berlin (2013). Her work has been exhibited widely in Canada and internationally (Finland, Senegal, Mali, Taiwan, and Germany), in institutions such as Centre CLARK, QC, Museum London, London ON; Contemporary Calgary; MOCA Taipei; SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, and featured in Biennales such as Momenta and Bamako Encounters. In 2022, she unveiled her first public artwork, a mural integrated into the architecture of the Espace Denis Savard, in the Verdun Auditorium in Montreal. She is the recipient of several awards, prizes, and distinctions, notably from the Conseil des Arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. In 2021, she was a finalist in the Salt Spring National Art Prize, was awarded the Barbara Sphor Memorial Prize from the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre, and received the Black Designers of Canada Award of Excellence. In 2022, she was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award. Her works are part of numerous public and private collections, including; EQ Bank; RBC Royal Bank, and Scotiabank. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, on Treaty 1, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples and the Métis Nation. Anna Binta Diallo is represented by Towards Gallery.
Installation of Topographies at The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2023. Images by Toni Hafkenscheid.
The artist gratefully acknowledges support from the Canada Council for the Arts for this exhibition.
This exhibition is supported by TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment.