From March 16th to March 22nd, the University of Toronto played host to Jaimie Black’s REDress Project art installation. Red dresses hung from trees to serve as a reminder of the 12,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women across North America.
As of late March, the dresses have remained hanging in their locations of installation. The Strand reached out to artist, Jamie Black for a comment on the project’s success, recognition, and the decision to leave the piece up, but have yet to hear back.
Black is a resident in the Women and Gender studies institute at U of T. The residency is hosting the REDress Project and Conversations with the Land—the latter exhibits themes of nature, performance, and installation in order to expose the relationship of land and the body.
The REDress Project addresses sub issues of history, gender, place, identity, and resistance through photography, installation, sculpture, and print.
First put up in Winnipeg in 2010, every piece in the installation is a donation. The REDress Project is presented alongside other elements of Black’s artist residency, including lectures, a performance, a charitable silent auction, and interviews.
The central location for the dresses is Philosopher’s Walk, a paved footpath that cuts through the campus from Hoskin Avenue to Bloor Street West. Chosen for its history of having once been a creek and a meeting place for Indigenous people, the walkway is now dotted with dresses that serve as a reminder that Indigenous women continue to disappear and very little is done to investigate their whereabouts or bring them justice.
Against the cold and colourless background of the university in March, the red dresses stand out: vibrantly demanding that passers-by notice them and consider the message they represent. A graduate of U of T, Black’s installation encourages campus-wide thought and dialogue about an issue that ought to be as vivid as the colour of the dresses but often goes undiscussed.
The dresses have been removed from campus locations as of March 28th.