Rebecca Garrett is a Toronto based artist whose use of media is situation specific. Since graduating from the Ontario College of Art in 1981, Garrett has been exhibiting single channel experimental videos; mixed media and performative interventions; site specific installations; photo-based wall pieces; and film and video installations, in numerous venues in Canada and abroad.
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.
In 1989 Garrett moved to Africa and was Visiting Artist in Residence at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe for three years. During this period she continued to exhibit her work in galleries and at the same time developed a community based practice that involved working collectively and collaboratively with community groups. She also continued producing single channel experimental works for screenings and broadcast. (Foodland, returning takes time, Continental Drift)
In 2000 Garrett completed a MFA at York University and subsequently taught at York University, the University of Toronto, and the Ontario College of Art and Design. From 2006 – 2009 Garrett initiated and directed a community-based video production and training project with the Dehcho First Nations in the Northwest Territories, setting up a production facility and producing with trainees a broadcast quality video that documents the history of the Dehcho Dene and their struggle for control over their land.
(Dehcho Ndehe Gha Nadaotsethe – Fighting for Our 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, an ongoing research and web based video project that has generated a number of works such as: search>echolocation>open sky, an interactive video and sound installation (2009); search>geography>erasure>affect (2010) a recently completed single channel video; and a work in progress entitled search>earth>any body.