Joy is more than just a feeling

window winnipeg x Wall-to-Wall

Curated by Ekene Maduka and Mahlet Cuff
Featuring Filmmaker and Artist pluetoe

To understand trauma as a Black person and see the pain that not only you yourself go through but the suffering of others in your community–it leaves you and stays with you always. The events of racism, anti Blackness, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism being heightened and used against Black people in the recent months is not new. It is not new to see violence, discrimination and ongoing trauma being displayed for everyone to see and witness at the same time. I know for myself and the ways I have been able to digest everything that has happened, it is important to take time to process, think and rest. To take care of myself when I see Black people being murdered and accountability is not even a part of the equation.

To be angry, sad and be okay with that. To know that through all this grief, there is happiness within it. To connect with my community, to be surrounded by Black people however that looks like in the age of social distancing. These pieces by these three emerging artists showcase the feeling of pleasure as a Black person and to understand the humanization of the Black experience.

-Mahlet Cuff

I often think about little knee-jerk reactions that I impulsively make. Undoubtedly, waking up and jumping straight on my phone is one of those many actions that have become reflexive. The past few months have felt like a lot of things and nothing all at once–from an overwhelming consumption of violence against black bodies on multiple media outlets, to everything else in-between that has made the majority describe this time as “strange.” Not one work email coming into my inbox has missed out the words “I hope you are well in these trying times” and to some degree, these words have become redundant and lacking in comfort. A paradox really. Despite the strain, despite not being able to fully digest my anger and mixed emotions, one thing is constant; I’ve somehow found ways to genuinely laugh, to smile, to feel stronger in vulnerability. Words are interesting and so is semiotics. The word ‘joy’ with its commonplace nature is as mundane as the act of casual laughter at a table with friends and loved ones. These moments are unaccounted for and are painted as “small” and quotidian. Reduced to just a symbol but robust in feeling. Reduced to the flatness of 2 dimensional prints by virtue of July’s artists Judah, Glodi and Ryan we see these moments frozen and highlighted as being important. I smile with Ryan’s subject with teeth and skin a deep cobalt blue from concert lights in the background. I am warm, I am lifted by the women embracing each other in Judah’s work and feel safe in the vulnerability and intimacy of Glodi’s women in white. From me and Mahlet Cuff and by window winnipeg, we write to you this love letter, a reminder really, that in the midst of our consumption of violence there exists many other sides to the narrative of “the black community”.

- Ekene Maduka

Date / Location

September 14 - 18, 2020

Synonym Gallery
211 Pacific Avenue 

Artist / Filmmaker 

pluetoe, also known as Victor Ilunga, is a video and performance artist who has been honing his craft since 2013 and recently graduated from the Vancouver Film School where he studied game and app development.

Despite being a different domain he states he loves activating his creative side and is unafraid of the unknown. Often dabbling between videography, game programming & photography, pluetoe is constantly learning new ways to express his ideas using different mediums and artistry.

A Winnipeg-based video & performance artist, pluetoe has gradually submerged himself in to the Winnipeg art scene. pluetoe’s evolution into videography allowed him to introduce another element to his style, often stating that his influence comes from the music he listens to and not so much the films he watches.

Raised in South Africa, moving to Turtle Island (“Canada”) had an impact on his approach to how he creates his art, as well as his presentation.


25:00 min

Using Format