A dark arched structure in a park surrounded by greenery

Black Ark

A dark arched structure in a park surrounded by greenery

Black Ark, 2023 Public History Award nominee. Photo by Cassandra Popescu. Image courtesy of Oluseye Ogunlesi.

A dark arched structure in a park surrounded by greenery

Black Ark, 2023 Public History Award nominee. Photo by Cassandra Popescu. Image courtesy of Oluseye Ogunlesi.

A dark arched structure in a park surrounded by greenery

Black Ark, 2023 Public History Award nominee. Photo by Cassandra Popescu. Image courtesy of Oluseye Ogunlesi.

A dark arched structure in a park surrounded by greenery

Black Ark, 2023 Public History Award nominee. Photo by Cassandra Popescu. Image courtesy of Oluseye Ogunlesi.

Project Lead: Oluseye Ogunlesi

Project Website 

Date of Release: June 7, 2023

Black Ark is a vessel, a threshold, and a communal space for reflection. At twelve feet tall, consisting of a fragmented reflective interior, a charred black exterior and a form inspired by the hold of a ship and the nave of a church, Black Ark is a dynamic, tangible memoriam. It reflects the role of the Church and of Canadian ship builders in both the enslavement of Black peoples in Canada and globally, but also the displacement of Indigenous peoples and practices on this Land.

 


Blackness in Canada is conceptualized as new and yet Black peoples presence here extends as far back as the 1700s. Placing Black Ark in Toronto whilst facing it outward to Lake Ontario connects Black histories across Canada, rooted on land and transported across the water. It looks East to Black loyalist settlements in Nova Scotia whilst insisting on the fact that Black life and culture has defined multiple Canadian locales, including Toronto, materially and socially.

This is a piece that clearly poses the complex questions of culpability and possibility, while unearthing and erecting untold histories. Through its intentional production and rich engagement with history and advocacy, Black Ark quite literally mirrors the present and imbues spaces with odes to complex pasts; offering communal opportunities for future making through honest discourse.


Additional Project Members: 

Toluwalase Rufai: Architect

Kafi Pierre: Producer

Ezinwanne Odozor: Writer