Jardin Daniel A. Séguin
studies for gardens (each form is a fixed snapshot of a process), 2017-2020
Video, 12 min 38 s
studies for gardens (a mixture between concept and discipline), 2017
Collages on graph paper
a small monument, 2017
Sculptures in raw clay
The processes that drive our bodies and our movements, our memories and our cultures, span Erika DeFreitas’s work and thought. In studies for gardens, a hundred or so collages combine samples of various shapes and textures evoking plants or textiles that, together, form possible arrangements of abstract or invented gardens. Her hands appear in a video that shows the process of composing and decomposing the collages. In her exploration of the symbolic and moral aspects of the portrayals of plants through colonial history, DeFreitas manipulates, re-establishes, and reimagines the potential assemblages of these gardens. The infinite multiplicity of reconfigurations created by her delicate gestures reminds us that cross-contamination and transformation are inherent to transmission. A similar idea is evoked in a small monument, with its hibiscus petals made of raw clay. The hibiscus flower has personal significance for DeFreitas; whenever it is mentioned, her Guyanese mother recalls a story from back home. Here, it is also a metaphor for the regenerative power of plants that captures our attention; from cycle to cycle, even if altered, the plant—the memory—is perpetuated. The petals, dispersed but not damaged by this fragmentation, foreshadow the passing of a memory to a future generation.
Erika DeFreitas draws on both personal and cultural histories to investigate the qualities of absence and presence, arising from her curiosity about the various forms of loss that one encounters and the fear of loss that one anticipates. She explores the dichotomy of absence and presence through a variety of media, placing an emphasis on process, gesture, and documentation – all relating to ways of affirming one’s presence. Her multidisciplinary practice includes performance, photography, video, installation, textiles, drawing, and writing. DeFreitas holds a master’s degree in visual studies from the University of Toronto.
Erika DeFreitas, studies for gardens (each form is the fixed snapshot of a process), still from the video, 2017/2020
Erika DeFreitas, a small monument (détail), (detail), raw-clay sculptures, 2017. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Art Gallery of York University.
Erika DeFreitas, studies for gardens (a mixture between concept and discipline) no 39, collage on graph paper, 2017