747 Rue du Square-Victoria, Montréal, QC H2Y 3Y9
Amanda Préval is a Haitian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist based in Longueuil on the unceded land of Karonhiatsi’kowáhne.
They are currently completing a Bachelor’s degree in Visual and Media Arts Education at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Amanda has participated in group exhibitions at the web gallery Espace Quincaillerie and at Place des Arts. Their work was also presented in the exhibition FEMININE NOTION at the Rad Hourani Foundation and at the 4th edition of Artch.
Approach and works on display
The performativity of the body at work, mass production and clothing are central themes of Amanda Préval’s research. She defines the body as a conceptual ground on which questions related on the sense of belonging and gender identity are being explored.
Her work revolves around braiding, a practice that has been familiar to her since childhood. She sees this practice deeply rooted in Afro-descendant communities as an “eminently social” art.
She reminds us that this repetitive and simple task that extends over long periods of time gives rise to moments of family and community socialisation. In the same way, this practice feeds a whole industry of black hair and particularly that of synthetic extensions. This industry participates in its turn in renewing the practice of braiding.
Amanda’s works are to be understood as “wearable” sculptures that question ancestral braiding traditions in the face of globalisation and industry. And for good reason her installations are made from synthetic hair extensions.
Strange Fruit (2020), 16 heures (2018), Crochet-braided Halter Top (2020) and Crinoline de cheveux synthétiques (2020)
From slavery to the fashion industry, through the textile economy to the physical and psychological damage of colonization, Amanda Préval questions the violence towards her body as a black woman. In this installation, the braided hair is like a writing system that tells us the story of cultural appropriation as well as the subalternization of black women in history and fashion (always models, while rarely designers). Through these braids, Amanda Préval tells us about the tremendous resilience of black communities. The work 16 hours emphasizes the agency (ability to decide for oneself) that escapes any form of assignment. While it refers to the long durations allotted to hair braiding, she says that the final result and its aesthetic escape her. In other words, this simple act of braiding reminds everyone of their capacity for resistance and resilience in the face of the unpredictable (from injustice to the simplest happiness).