Kama La Mackerel is a tio’tia:ke/Montreal-based performer, poet, story-teller, community-arts facilitator and multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores aesthetic practices as forms of resilience, resistance and healing for marginalized communities. Using performance, poetry, story-telling, textiles, installations, water-colour and photography, Kama’s work is both deeply personal and political, articulating an anti-colonial praxis through cultural production.
Kama has exhibited her work at the Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa), McGill University (Montreal), Galerie Confluences (Paris), and her piece, “The People Tree,” commissioned by Althea Thauberger, was shown at the Montréal Museum of Contemporary Arts as part of the exhibit In Search of Expo 67. Kama has performed locally and internationally at venues including La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse (Montreal), Fonderie Darling (Montreal), Monument National (Montreal), The Gladstone Hotel (Toronto), Buddies in Bad Times (Toronto), The Khyber Centre for the Arts (Halifax), Burlington City Arts (Burlington), Cooper Union Gallery (New York), The Hackney Attick (London), the School for New Dance Performance (Amsterdam) and La Mutinerie (Paris), amongst others. Her work has been published both online and in print.
Kama is presently the artistic coordinator of Our Bodies, Our Stories, an arts mentorship program for queer and trans youth of colour in Montreal, and she is an artist-mentor with the Artists Mentoring Youth (AMY) Project in Toronto. She is also the artistic director of The AMY Project’s a new Performance Poetry Program for trans women and femmes. In 2012, she co-founded Qouleur, a community-arts collective for queer and trans people of colour in Montreal, and she is also the founder and hostess of GENDER B(L)ENDER, Montreal’s only monthly queer open mic, which she has been running since May 2013. In the Spring of 2017, she co-designed and co-facilitated Parallel Tracks, a national training program in community arts facilitation for racialized artists.
She has curated several performance projects including the annual Self-Love Cabaret: l’amour se conjugue à la première personne (2012-16), résistance//résidence (2012), Home Invasion: Queers Shaking the foundations of all White Houses (2015), Contemporary Poetics of Trans People of Colour (2016) and SPEAK B(L)ACK (2017).
Kama La Mackerel is deeply implicated in grassroots social justice movements around anti-oppression, anti-racism, migrant rights, trans liberation and gender justice. She runs popular education and community-art projects that centre decolonial practices to address structural and systemic violence. Her work draws together history, spirituality and the imagination to initiate a process of reparation and healing for marginalized communities. In 2016, Kama La Mackerel was featured by the CBC/Radio Canada as one of 9 women artists in Canada whose work is making a difference.
In the summer of 2015, Kama did an artist residency at the Robert’s Street Social Centre in Halifax, and in 2016-17, she completed an 8-months artist residency in the Faculty of Education at McGill University.
She is presently working on her new one-woman spoken word show, My Body Is the Ocean, which she is also the title of her collection of lyric poetry, and the inspiration for her latest collection of paintings. She is additionally developing a new photography project, Breaking the Promise of Tropical Emptiness: positioning trans womanhood in the Mauritian postcard.
Kama was born in Mauritius and first immigrated to India as a young adult, before moving to Turtle Island/Canada. Kama has been living in tio’tia:ke/Montreal, on traditional kanien’kehá:ka territory since September 2011. A femme supreme who is haunted by the ocean, Kama loves drinking tea, reading poetry, taking care of her plants & spending time with her loved ones.