Nine Cana­dian women dar­ing to do some­thing dif­fer­ent.

Meet nine Cana­dian women who are chang­ing the way we talk about every­thing from art to technology to how we han­dle our money.


Meld­ing, com­bin­ing, di­a­logu­ing—these are all words that come up a lot in con­ver­sa­tion with con­tem­po­rary artist Kapwani Kiwanga. She’s a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinar­ian, for starters: an award­win­ning doc­u­men­tary film­maker turned artist with a schol­arly bent. Her per­sonal geog­ra­phy—born in Canada, spent a few years in Scot­land, now based in Paris—is cer­tainly var­ied. And her work, of course, re­volves around what the 38-year-old calls “try­ing to bring dif­fer­ent worlds to­gether at a meet­ing point where they dia­logue and be­come some­thing dif­fer­ent.”

An ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of this is a project (which is still de­vel­op­ing in her mind) based on a pro­posed bridge link­ing Africa and Europe: “My ques­tion isn’t re­ally about mi­gra­tion, although that comes up; it’s about dis­tinc­tions be­tween land masses and how those have been seen as the be­gin­ning or the end of the world, as start­ing or end points.” (What will that art­work look like? She says she has no idea yet, but this is how they all start.) In the years since she stud­ied an­thro­pol­ogy at McGill Uni­ver­sity, Kiwanga has turned that in­quir­ing artist’s eye to sub­jects as di­verse as Tan­za­nian his­tory (the sub­ject of her 2014 ex­hi­bi­tion at the presti- gious Jeu de Paume in Paris) and the United Na­tions’ col­lec­tion of cu­rios from around the world (a com­mis­sion for this year’s Ar­mory Show in New York City).

“Ev­ery project is dif­fer­ent,” says Kiwanga of the in­stal­la­tions she cre­ates. “I be­lieve peo­ple un­der­stand things in dif­fer­ent ways—some spa­tially, others sen­su­ally, still others in­tel­lec­tu­ally. I’m just try­ing to give dif­fer­ent in­tel­li­gences a way to latch onto a spe­cific mo­ment in time.” Kiwanga tries to “trans­mit [her] ex­cite­ment about some­times very geeky things”—de­pend­ing on the ex­hib­tion you see, how she does that varies. It can be video, sculp­ture or sound—she lets the idea dic­tate the ex­pres­sion.

And while her work of­ten deals with what she calls “sto­ries and his­to­ries that have maybe fallen through the cracks, that are more mar­ginal,” she is hes­i­tant to call her­self “an ac­tivist” artist. “That would be pompous!” she says, laugh­ing. “There might be a po­lit­i­cal as­pect be­cause there are ques­tions of power dy­nam­ics that are in­her­ent, but it’s never meant to be frontal or con­vert any­body. I’m sim­ply stat­ing my po­si­tion, and peo­ple can take it or leave it.” Sarah Laing

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