Saskatoon – Addressing inequality and racism was the goal of the creators of a new art project, which features a larger-than-life portrait of vocal, masked Black Canadians draping windows at Toronto’s Harbourfront Center.
“‘Unmask Fear’ is just balance,” Robert Young told Granthshala News Channel on Saturday. He added that he is protesting “racist prejudice and ignorance by showing people who are doing purposeful things in the world.”
Among the giant black-and-white images are Liberal MP Marcy Inn, Ontario’s lieutenant-governor’s chief of staff, Anthony Hilton, author Curtis Carmichael, and Dr. Akwatu Khenty, the City of Toronto’s Special Adviser on COVID-19. Equity Initiative.
“All of us from all over the world have contributed to humanity, and the reality is that the African diaspora [and] Black people around the world should not be left out of that conversation,” Young said.
He says inequality is frustrating and unfair because it forces communities that have historically had less means and less access to power to “feel that they need to complain or be told that they are related.”
“Illusions that are tied to and driven by concepts of racism are based on concepts that are out of date now. They are out of date at a time when we have so much access to information,” he said. “I think only It is much easier to dispel these dreadful concepts by speaking the truth and sharing thoughts and truths in a positive way.”
Inspired by a selfie taken in Washington, DC
Young’s Canadian project grew out of a similar project in Washington, D.C. last spring called “No Fear” following the rebellion against the police killing of George Floyd. “No Fear” featured huge black and white pictures in the US capital.
That project originated with his friends sending a selfie of himself wearing a canvas mask, quoting former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “We have nothing but fear.”
His friends were excited and encouraged Young to create a public art institute featuring that picture.
“[I] Felt a little weird because it was a picture of my own face,” Young said. But, he said, he gave in under pressure because “everyone was speaking to the fact that they felt the image was now a must and should be seen prominently.”
The free-to-the-public installation “Unmask Fear Canada” will be on display in the Harbourfront Center’s main building until November 30.
There is also a multimedia part of the project available here, which includes uncut interviews with each of the portrait’s subjects.