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Shani Mootoo was born in Dublin, Ireland, raised in Trinidad and has been based in Vancouver for the past thirteen years. During the 1980s Mootoo was recognized primarily for her painting, but since the early 1990s she has directed her attention to photocopies, video and writing. To date, Mootoo's photocopies and videotapes have been presented only in group exhibitions. The Contemporary Art Gallery project is the first opportunity to see a coherent body of her work in these mediums.
Mootoo's work explores the complexities of identity as it is expressed through gender, sexuality and the individual's place within the larger social arena. The photocopy pieces she has produced for this exhibition range from snapshot-like photomontages reflecting the public realm of the street, to compositions that play upon psychological and imaginary states of mind, to imagery that is unabashedly sensual. Aspects of the videotapes explore the wilderness as a symbol of Canadian idealism. Together these works convey an identity that is fragmentary, filled with contradictions and that reverberates between the public and the private.
Shani Mootoo's work has been recently exhibited in Memory and Desire: The Voices of 11 Women of Culture at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Racey, Sexy at the Chinese Cultural Centre, Vancouver; Telling Relations: Sexuality and the Family at the Grunt Gallery, Vancouver; and at YYZ in Toronto. Her videos have been screened in Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Berlin, and Birmingham, England.
The majority of the work in this exhibition (South, North & West walls) was produced during the past month on a Xerox Majestic photocopier. The Contemporary Art Gallery extends a special thanks to Xerox Canada Limited for making this machine available to the artist, and for printing materials for the art and the accompanying publication.