Rebecca Garrett

Rebecca Garrett is a Toronto based artist whose use of media is situation specific. Her work in film, video and installation has always been multiple and mixed, evolving out of painting and into single channel experimental films in the late 1970’s, film installations in the 1980’s, and a concurrent production of gallery based mixed media installations and community based videos in the 90’s. Her recent and current works brings together and weaves multiple practices, places and lines of inquiry.

Garrett’s work has for many years embodied two parallel approaches to artistic practice. Her works explore experimental formal concerns and are committed to the evolution of an alternative and innovative image language. These concerns are located within, and challenged by the indexical nature of the sign and the documentary traditions and responsibilities of various social and political contexts. In one way or another all of her works can be seen as investigations of the effects of structures of containment or control -- such as architecture, colonialism or global media -- on perception, psychic and cultural survival, and knowledge production.

Garrett moved to Africa and was Visiting Artist in Residence at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe from 1989 - 1994. During this period she continued to exhibit her work in galleries and produce single channel experimental works for screenings and broadcast. At the same time she developed a community based practice that involved working collectively and collaboratively with community groups.

Garrett has taught at York University, the University of Toronto, and the Ontario College of Art and Design, and initiated and directed a three year community-based video production and train- ing project with the Dehcho First Nations in the Northwest Territories that documents the history of the Dehcho Dene and their struggle for control over their land.

Garrett has been involved in numerous artist, activist and solidarity communities. She was on the board of directors of YYZ for five years in the early 80’s and was President of the Board of Directors of Charles Street Video from 1998 – 2005, and continues to work with a number of groups and individuals in Toronto, including the Hard Pressed Collective (The Olive Project), the Wildflower Collective (Earth Wide Circles) and The Money Project.

Garrett is currently working on search, a long term ongoing research and web based data base video project begun 2003 that looks at the role and influence of the military on our visual technologies, and on our land and bodies and communities and relations. It has generated a number of works such as: search>echolocation>open sky, an interactive video and sound installation (2009); search>geography>erasure>affect (2011) a recently completed single channel video; and a work in progress entitled search>earth>any body.

A central concern of my work is an interrogation of representational frameworks and how they re late to histories, lived experience, and the body. This line of inquiry has led to an exploration of the inclusions and exclusions involved in notions of ‘home’, focusing on issues such as displacement, colonization, subjectivity, social and material erasure, and disjunctions between the global and the local.

Artist Code: 236


search > geography > erasure > affect

2011, 55:10 minutes, colour, English

Dehcho Ndehe Gha Nadaotsethe "Fighting for Our Land"

2009, 67:00 minutes, colour, English

Rooster Rock - The Story of Serpent River

2002, 32:00 minutes, English

Safe Park

2001, 46:30 minutes, colour, English

Mahoso: The Child in a Time of Insecurity

1998, 09:11 minutes, colour, English


1997, 05:30 minutes, colour, English

Continental Drift

1994, 52:21 minutes, colour, English

Returning Takes Time

1991, 20:00 minutes, colour, English

Critical Writing

Siya So
by Rebecca Garrett and Munya Madzima. Public, 2003, no. 27.
Transactions: Investigations of postcolonial identity
by Rebecca Garrett. Gallery: The Art Magazine From the Gallery Delta, June 1999.