“A crossroad is a point at which a crucial decision must be made, and has the potential to have far-reaching consequences. Here Again, At the Crossroads explores the unintended continuity of our constant arrival and departure from this critical juncture.”
In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement shook the world. “I can’t breathe” was painted on signs, worn on shirts, and chanted along the streets. Day after day, people gathered in protest to demand justice and change—challenging police brutality and systemic injustice.
The pandemic stripped society of distraction. For once, people of all ages, social statuses and walks of life, were in the same situation—stuck at home with the hustle and bustle of their daily lives halted. While everyone was in a stalled state, their screens filled with a seven minute and 46 second call to action. As the world watched the reality of racism and injustice as it exists in society and in the police force, the movement found new urgency and allies. The world, stripped of distraction finally took notice of people of colour’s stripped freedoms.
Now, we must keep the momentum for change moving forward by amplifying melanated voices and challenging the system that has since its creation been oppressing certain communities.
Here Again, At the Crossroads is a public art exhibit that seeks to do this while exploring the historic transit hub of Union Station as a site of constant movement and change. With the contributions of three contemporary artists—Andre Wagner, Jayda Marley, and Jordan Sook—the exhibit examines “the conditions that shape the Black experience, and what it means to be arriving at yet another point in our collective histories, where everyone is being called to defend Black lives.”
Union Station is Canada’s largest train station. Every day, thousands of individuals transverse the station’s halls. The station serves as a stop on their journey to “familiar places” and “new beginnings”—making it the perfect place to house the exhibit.
“THANK YOU FOR KEEPING US ON TRACK”
“Thank You For Keeping Us On Track” by Jordan Sook, in collaboration with Nia Centre, Union Station and TD Bank, is a large-scale, mixed-media installation that sits in the centre of the Union Station exhibit. Jordan Sook— the Toronto-based artist—explores the history of the station and its creation. With 2500 hats made up of a gravel-like material to give the sense of texture, each hat is symbolic of a different worker who would have worked on the railway. As a whole, “Thank You For Keeping Us On Track” speaks to a collective strength and unity.
“My work deals a lot with society, in the scene of how we perceive our environment and the natural world around us. It deals with economics and commerce. It deals with birth and death. There’s a sexual element to my work as well. Adolescence. All these themes are explored within my work. When I look at my practice as a whole, I’m seeing the makeup of what it means to be human.”
“A TICKET TO THE REVOLUTION”
The 19 year old, nationally acclaimed Queer Afro-Indigenous Poet MJ examines notions of displacement and freedom. Her words in “A Ticket To The Revolution” ask and reflect on what it means to build cities that you never truly belong too.
“My poetry speaks on Blackness in all its forms and that comes to my intersectionality—being Indigenous, being a woman. I do talk about oppression, but I try to talk about Blackness in a light.”
As an activist, Marley is one of the founders of the non-profit movement, “Not Another Black Life.”
“I’m grateful to the communities who are still upholding these spaces for artists, because it really matters to be in a place where I can say ‘I’m here. I’m understood here’.”
“HERE AGAIN, AT THE CROSSROADS”
Andre D. Wagner
The Brooklyn based photographer Andre D. Wagner’s work investigates themes of race, class, cultural identity, and community as it exists in the social landscape.
Having studied social work, Wagner found balance in mixing his passion for photography with his interest in social work. He has been commissioned by well-renown publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vogue, to name a few. The three images on display at this exhibit are part of a larger series that Wagner has been working on for about 7 years, the span of time that he’s been living in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
“I spent a lot of time just getting to know my community, getting to know the members, and just kind of getting the sense of the change that’s happening—what’s going on and what’s affecting people.” he explains. “When I’m walking around my Neighbourhood, I’m looking to tell stories through photographs, through people as they are just living their life. I take ordinary life and show it to people in a way they don’t see it. You know, in a way that’s heightened. I think there’s so much power in that.”
With the goal of being a catalyst for self-reflection, the exhibit as a whole asks more questions than it answers. To experience the exhibit, visit https://torontounion.ca/hereagaincrossroads/.
Featured photo courtesy of Spring Morris.