True and Functional (Stereograph), 2022. Duration 05:15 min.

Fall 23 - Memories

Timothy Yanick Hunter


As a Jamaican in Toronto, how have you found inspiration in your environment?
Jamaica, its people and its cultural influence permeate Toronto culture in such dynamic ways. I am first generation, born in Canada - the immigration story and the placement and displacement of people heavily inspire the work. I am interested in the history of movement. This comes from family, community, language  and history. In a wider sense, I'm interested in the African diaspora and how we contend with Canadian (and Western) culture.  

How does music and skate culture inform your practice?

Music is my first artistic influence. I think my  process is linked inherently to the art of sampling and reference. Skating and its influence on me is difficult to summarize in brevity. I can say that it informs the way I approach video and editing - in the way that skate videos are kind of this non-linear format for storytelling. Beyond this, growing up skating instills an appreciation for trial and error.  

 Much of your work involved mining archives. When/how did you become interested in archival research and history?

I started my undergraduate studies as a journalism student. At that point I was always interested in history, politics,  and investigative journalism. I quickly changed majors as I was generally unhappy with the program. I studied writing and Art History, only so that I could engage with art and writing. At the time I didn’t realize how all of this might influence the work. Coupling this with my fascination with the internet, digital archives, and piracy. I think that this combination of interests helped my practice develop into such a research based practice. I also feel as though I am using my work simply to explore Black diasporic histories in my own way. 

Video is considered one of the most democratic visual forms. Do you agree or disagree with this premise? 

Because of the ubiquitous nature of the screen, I think there is an argument for video and its ability to reach a wide audience. Also the format has become so accessible a person with a phone can make a film tomorrow. However I dont think it's any more accessible or democratic than  drawing or photography.

How and why do you use dub and remix as structural frameworks for your work?

I feel that dub and remix are formats and methodologies that I consider while working - they’re less of strict frameworks for me, they're more like ideas and motifs that I draw from. In the work I try to achieve a sense of disjointed rhythms, echoes and reverbs - this is where I think through dub. Remix appears in the way I may appropriate an image or sample -the attempt to make something new from something already existing. 

True and Functional features archival photos from across the African diaspora, how  did you envision them working as tools for collective memory?

I always say the work is a nod or reference to the concept of ancestral or collective memory. I believe artists are often just creating symbols for things. I think my work, especially video, represents the idea of cultural memory. Imagine if you could visualize a dream? That's the impetus behind the work.  

What role does memory play in your work?

It plays a prominent role in the work. I am attempting to visualize a kind of diasporic memory, cross generational, and non-linear. I also try to embrace unknowing and how memories can be incomplete or even false. 

Can you share the titles of three books you were reading while working on this project?

Specific works that relate to True and Functional would be: Dear Science, Katherine McKittrick, ​​Dub - Soundscapes And Shattered Songs In Jamaican Reggae by Michael E. Veal, and SIXSIXSIX a photobook by Samuel Fosso.

Timothy Yanick Hunter (b. 1990 Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a multidisciplinary artist and curator. Hunter’s practice employs strategies of bricolage to examine non-neutral relationships relating to Black and Afro-diasporic experiences as well as concurrent strategies of decolonization. His approach alternates between exploratory and didactic, with a focus on the political, cultural and social richness of the Black diaspora. Hunter’s work often delves into speculative narratives and the intersections of physical space, digital space and the intangible. Hunter received his BA from the University of Toronto, and has been artist in residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario and PADA Studios in Barreiro, Portugal. He was included in the 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art, and longlisted for the 2022 Sobey Art Award. He has exhibited nationally and internationally at Cooper Cole, Toronto (2022), Gallery 44, Toronto (2021); A Space Gallery, Toronto (2020); 92Y, New York (2020); Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph (2019) and PADA Studios, Barreiro (2019); among others. Hunter lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.