Brendan Fernandes, "Aya Mama," video still, 2008.
On Becoming, May 5 to July 2, 2011, Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon
BY: Amy Fung
Looking through the lens of diaspora and difference, Brendan Fernandes has been complicating the notion of identity through his own Indian-Kenyan-Canadian heritage. Searching for an authentic way of being — or becoming — Fernandes questions authenticity. He begins by questioning his own identity, and the ideological tropes of what constitutes an authentic African or Indian experience, and immerses his viewers into the same questions through a variety of media from painting, drawing, new media, performance, and installation. In On Becoming, Fernandes continues a theme of the safari, but radicalizes the historical and social conditioning that safaris stand in for the Western model of an authentic African experience. Playing on the spectatorship of the safari, Fernandes puts the animals in whitewashed tribal masks. He inverts accepted social constructions, and questions how cultural identities form. He’s exhibited widely across Canada and the U.S., and continues his multimedia explorations of cultural authenticity as a code that brings together specific groups and communities.