Shelagh Keeley is a visual artist whose practice involves drawing, artist books, photography, film and installation. Currently living and working in Toronto, Shelagh was based in New York City and Paris for 22 years. Her notable recent projects include: An Embodied Haptic Space, MOCA Toronto 2020. IFA Galerie Stuttgart, Germany 2017. The Unfinished Conversation: Encoding / Decoding at Museu Colecao Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal 2016. A commissioned residency project / performance MoMA Library and Archives NYC 2015. Notes on Obsolescence, a commissioned wall drawing, The Power Plant Toronto 2014 - 2015. Shelagh was given the Canadian Governor General's award in 2017.
At the core of her work is a drawing practice that is based on a corporeal embodied response to readings and research in poetry, politics, film and architecture. Throughout her international career of 40 years her practice has been focused on a vast body of drawing made in an expanded field working beyond the studio creating on site ephemeral wall drawings. Her work explores the power, memory and deception of photography often as it relates to western colonial narratives. More information about Shelagh Keeley can be found on her website at: shelaghkeeley.com
Shelagh’s contribution to the ECH was Hotel Room 31 (1984), an installation combining photographs, text and wall drawing to talk about detainment and in particular the Algerian War of Independence(1954-1962). The photographs were of an abandoned fort in Algeria used by the French colonial army to imprison and torture members of the Front de libération nationale (FLN). Text from Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth(1961) and wall drawings made from sand, pigment and Vaseline were also woven throughout the space.
Hotel Room 31 had a long history at the ECH, living on the walls for twenty four years until the hotel’s devastating fire in 2009. The project was discussed by American artist Martha Rosler in her book If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism (1991), a multifaceted text about the urban housing crisis in the United States. Most recently the the work was exhibited on the Media Wall at Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto in 2013.