Intersectionality, as a concept, originated in the USA, Black feminist movement of the 1980’s. Most scholars credit Kimberlé Crenshaw for first using the term to elaborate the experience of African-American women - the reality of their blackness - within feminism. These women insisted that there were many feminisms, not one monolithic movement that was uniquely centred on white women.
The contemporary usage of intersectionality has now extended to include many aspects of identity - race, gender, queerness, language, class, age, able-bodyness, to name just some - that make up our identities. Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires recognizes that there is a confluence of ‘isms’ that function to exclude, oppress and otherwise dismiss many people.
We strive to work in intersectional ways. We program all of our events, arts commissions, gatherings with intersectionality in mind. But in reality, we know that this is not always easy. We are concerned that the art world in Canada still centres Eurocentricity and so we foreground Indigeneity, race and ethnicity in art making. Inevitably, some artists will ask, ‘yes, but what about…?’ We attempt to be humble in the face of this criticism, using it as a means to make our work better. As difficult as working intersectionality can be, we consider it not just possible, but necessary.
We like to say that we work with the ‘4 inters’ - interracial/cultural, connecting the relationships between race, culture and art; interdisciplinary, across arts disciplines; intergenerational, listening to artists who are young adults, emerging, mid-career and elders; and intersectional. We believe that intersectionality is the future of arts practice. Too many artistic voices have been waiting for too long to be heard.
Joëlle Rouleau, Mouloud Boukala, Véro Leduc
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Feature image: photo by Amory Hall
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