Swimming up a Dark Tunnel


Artist: Letticia Cosbert Miller
94 page Monograph, 5.1 x 7.1 inches, 13 × 18 cm

Published by Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography, 2022

Swimming up a Dark Tunnel features essays by writer and curator Letticia Cosbert Miller published through Gallery 44’s 2020/21 Writer-in-Residence program.

Each year, Gallery 44 invites a writer to explore concepts related to photography and image-culture as understood through their own research interests. Cosbert Miller explores the subject of water to draw in many of her interests, including Classics, and the writings of Dionne Brand and Toni Morrison to name just a few.

The essays explore water as a historical and political site. Public pools, swimwear, migration across water that is forced, willing and unwilling. The beach is an intersection for bikini clad vacationers and displaced refugees. The sea is a boundary or portal where Poseidon dwells in the depths, along with the victims of the Middle Passage. Cosbert Miller brings all these intersections together and threads personal experience as well as pop culture references throughout all four essays.

In the first essay, Swimming up a Dark Tunnel, Cosbert Miller reflects on the absence of Black bathers in archival images as well as the current dearth of Black bathers in Toronto public pools through her own experiences, as a young swimmer determined to make space for herself despite early rebuffs. The pool, in Cosbert Miller’s words is “a place of both inherited terror and self-determined refuge”.

The second essay, Tell me Where the Sea Is, features Cosbert Miller’s recollections of her time on the lido’s of Sicily where Black and brown skinned refugees from North and West Africa and South Asia seek to make a living despite restrictive laws meant to erase their presence and push them to the peripheries of tourist hubs. Voyages by water traced in the stories of the great traveller Odysseus intersect with the migration of Black and brown peoples with hopes for better lives.

Published third, All of Us Had a Taste explores the history of the bikini and the Black bikini body, traced through Halle Berry’s glamorous ascendence in the film B*A*P*S (Black American Princesses), her time as a ‘Bond Girl’ and rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s own economic and sexual liberation through the vehicle of the bikini.

Finally the fourth essay, Deep Down There reflects on the legacy of the Middle Passage and its wake. Reflecting on the two million people who were killed during the passage, Cosbert Miller recalls ancient Greek poetry to create an intentionally fragmented and poetic memorial to those who have been lost.

Also included in the publication is a conversation commissioned by Gallery 44, between curator Heather Canlas Rigg and Letticia Cosbert Miller about the residency experience and her choice of subject matter. The interview explores a wide range of topics, including working in the art world and the necessity of art criticism.

About the Artist:
Letticia Cosbert Miller is a Toronto-based writer and curator. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto.

Letticia’s work as a writer is often in dialogue with historical, mythological, or philosophical tropes from the western classical tradition. Her academic research interests lie within the reception of Classics in Black diasporic contemporary culture. Her writing and editorial work has appeared in the Toronto Star, BlackFlash Magazine, Canadian Art Magazine, MOMUS, as well as in publications by Aperture Foundation, the Aga Khan Museum, Gardiner Museum, Akimbo, and others. Letticia has curated exhibitions for Trinity Square Video, The Blackwood, and others.

Letticia was the 2020-2021 Writer-in-Residence for Gallery 44, and formerly the Director of Koffler.Digital at Koffler Centre of the Arts.

About the Publisher:
Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is a charitable, non-profit, artist-run centre committed to supporting multi-faceted approaches to photography and lens-based media. Founded in 1979 to establish a supportive environment for the development of artistic practice, Gallery 44’s mandate is to provide a context for meaningful reflection and dialogue on contemporary photography.

Gallery 44 is committed to programs that reflect the continuously changing definition of photography by presenting a wide range of practices that engage timely and critical explorations of the medium. Through exhibitions, public engagement, education programs and production facilities our objective is to explore the artistic, cultural, historic, social and political implications of the image in our ever-expanding visual world.

Weight: 0.29 lbs
Width: 5.1 inches
Height: 7.1 inches
Depth: N/A
Shipping Cost: Calculated at Checkout

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