The Slave's Lament: Doris McCarthy Gallery, Toronto

Graham Fagen (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Exhibition dates: February 10 - April 7, 2018
Curated by Louise Déry
Organized and circulated by Galerie de l’UQAM

The exhibition The Slave’s Lament presents works by the multidisciplinary artist Graham Fagen, wherein he collaborates with reggae artist Ghetto Priest, and members of the Scottish Ensemble. Comprised of a large-scale multi-channel video installation, drawings, and landscape photographs, the exhibition explores issues of colonialism and complicity. Bringing to light less-known histories in the life of Scottish poet Robert Burns, Fagen and Priest’s collaboration questions ideas of nationalism and identity through addressing Scottish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. Together, these artists offer a pertinent examination of cultural and social heritage, and by implication, possible futures through artistic communication.

In the multi-channel video installation, Fagen filmed Priest and the Ensemble in close-up, then divided the temporal sequence into pieces that he recomposed into an epic-style ode to identity that can be inherited, stolen, or assumed. The camera scrutinizes the gazes and gestures, lingering over certain details as if to track down a potential for authenticity and identity to be safeguarded and shared. The work of these long-time collaborators prompts further discussion about cultural remixing, allyship, and appropriation. The installation is accompanied by a set of photographs of the Atlantic Ocean from opposing perspectives, suggesting exile and loss through the passage of space and time, as well as acknowledgement of connection. A series of blind drawings of the artist’s teeth investigate representations of identity and consciousness.

Through a culture clash and critique of national monuments, Fagen’s work brings together musical and visual language to consider how cultural identity is formed by both the personal and political. The Slave’s Lament premiered at the 2015 Venice Biennial and was exhibited in 2017 at the Galérie de l’Université du Québec à Montréal, curated by Louise Déry.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationToronto, Canada
PublisherDoris McCarthy Gallery
Media of outputOther
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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  • The Slave's Lament

    Fagen, G., 2019, University of Dundee.

    Research output: Other contributionMulti-Component Output (MCO)peer-review

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