IN KEEPING WITH MYSELF
Erika DeFreitas is a Toronto-based artist who is curious about the various forms of loss one may encounter. Her interdisciplinary practice draws on both personal and cultural histories to investigate absence and presence. She uses a variety of media and places an emphasis on process, gesture and documentation. What has evolved is a playful obsession with finding ways to make the impermanent permanent, or engaging in ritualistic acts in the hopes of regaining what is lost.
Encompassing research, documentation and gestured collage, DeFreitas’s diptych, from her larger series arriver avant moi devant moi, provides a space for reflection. The artist searches for the Black body in European and Western art history. In her process, she invokes visual artists like Maud Sulter and Lorraine O’Grady, and actress and dancer Jeanne Duval, whose faces and accomplishments are often erased from history. This search for artists from the past is akin to genealogical research, where the quest for a sense of identity is paired with the desire to create a space for the self within the narrative of family histories. With her artwork, DeFreitas creates a new history — a new space in which she places herself within a long line of often hidden faces and talents.