Drawing on imagery from historical archives and personal anecdotes, Berirouche Feddal traces his Amazigh origins, manipulating the past anew. Wood, photographs, book pages, and detritus are etched, cut, and even burned, then layered with generous, vibrant colour. Feddal is constantly removing and reapplying layers of materials, a process that mimics how memory is passed down through generations, added to and shaped, an accumulation of fragments over time. Feddal’s multidisciplinary work is unconcerned with historical accuracy or easy-to-read narratives, bridging the past with the present suffices. In manipulating some elements, he reveals others.
Legibility is a facet of Florence Yee’s work as well. Second-generation Cantonese, Yee creates text-based artworks to play with and disrupt exclusionary conventions of language and imagery. Words are embroidered across printed cotton photographs, paintings are unfocused and distorted, removing information and obstructing the blurry images behind them. Without prioritising narrative or linguistic signifiers, Yee’s work values instead the indecipherable or the unreadable, a gesture that is defiantly aware of how language can be used to define, exclude and erase diasporic communities.
What’s more, the words across Yee’s printed photographs act as a watermark of sorts, recalling a sense of ownership or property claim, like those stamped on mass-circulated digital images or found on the underbelly of commodified goods. Yee reminds us that racialized identity and culture are equally commodified, tokenized images and bodies exploited across commercial, public, and online spaces.
Meticulous in their creation, Yee and Feddal’s work are evidence of labour and care, not only in their physical acts of making (Yee’s hand stitches or Feddal’s layers of paint and pastel) but also in the time spent engaging with images and language of their cultural legacies.
Born in the mountainous region of Kabylia, Algeria Berirouche Feddal is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in Montreal. Feddal’s work has been presented at FOFA Gallery (Montreal), Conserverie Marrakech, Maison de la culture de la Rivière-des-Prairies (Montreal), and Stewart Hall Art Gallery (Montreal).
Florence Yee is a visual artist based in Toronto and Montreal. Yee’s multidisciplinary work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Textile Museum (Toronto), and the Gardiner Museum (Toronto). Often drawing on collaboration and community in their practice, Yee co-founded the Chinatown Biennial in 2020, a multi-site project aimed at engaging with the wealth, power, and colonial legacy of international cultural events.