ARTISTS OF THE AURORA
have you seen my sister
Original installation: Nuit Blanche Toronto 2017
Independent project 89
September 30, 2017 to October 1, 2017
12 hour Installation
51 Grosvenor street, Toronto
The image for 'Have You Seen My Sister?' started with a painting by Artists of the Aurora collective member Victor Klassen. Design members Pat Vandesompele, Noah Handa-Kipphoff, and Shelina Knight added text to create an image that evokes missing posters. The missing in this poster is Everywoman. She carries the world on her shoulders. The image draws connections among the phenomena of missing and murdered women in Canada and throughout the world. Indigenous women, women of colour, women living in poverty, trans women: it is often the most disenfranchised whose numbers are over-represented in missing and murdered statistics.
At the première of the piece at Nuit Blanche Toronto, for twelve hours artists sang the names of Ontario's missing women in a composition and improvisation for unaccompanied voice. The installation invited guests to add their voices in call/response sections. Ribbons were offered to be taken home or used to create art on site. They served as a reminder of the missing women; they prompt us to look around corridors of power and privilege and ask: “Who is missing?”, provoking us to draw connections between these absences and the phenomena of missing and murdered women and girls.
What's next for the project? The artists are continuing the memorial, planning to record one 15 minute quadrant of the piece and inviting artists and musicians from other provinces to engage with Have You Seen My Sister? in a bid to raise awareness to reduce the violence against women with evidence-based strategies. We are calling for an authoritative list to document the cases across the country so that the evidence can be analyzed and evidence-based responses to reduce the violence can be devised and implemented. A related project in the schools will offer Explorations theatrical workshops designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore issues of prejudice from the perspectives of perpetrator, by-stander and recipient. The idea is help students create strategies for dealing with such prejudice starting with their own stories.
For this project, we drew on the lists generated by Maryanne Pearce and her Appendix F for her thesis An Awkward Silence. You can read Maryanne's thesis here. We drew on the lists generated by the NL Feminists and Allies, and we also drew on the work published by the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH). We also scoured the internet for updates on the missing and murdered and on the list of Jane Does, and unidentified remains.
Update: Dec. 4/17: Link to the most recent version of the OAITH list of femicides for 2016-17.
The following two lists are almost certainly inaccurate and incomplete. There is no authoritative list. Accordingly, we have had to create lists, compiling the works of others and adding to it from media reports and other information available online. In our Gone lists, we include women and girls who were killed violently by people they knew or by strangers. In the Away list, we include women and girls who have gone missing mysteriously. If you have updates for this list or omissions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have You Seen My Sister has been performed twice: a 12 hour installation for Nuit Blanche Toronto Sept 30-Oct 1, 2017, and a 20 minute installation to commemorate Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on violence against women, Dec 6, 2017.
Currently the group is making plans to record the piece.