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Petrija Dos Santos, Untitled (Carrots), Topola, Serbia, 2014, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.

The Ryerson Image Centre Student Gallery presents
Petrija Dos Santos: A Labour of Love

Opening party: Wednesday, March 7, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Exhibition dates: March 7 – April 8, 2018

Join us for a reception to celebrate the opening of Petrija Dos Santos: A Labour of Love, a photographic exhibition exploring Dos Santos’ Serbian heritage. In this body of work Dos Santos’ images portray subtle signs of Serbia’s history, one riddled with conflict, economic instability, and political tension. Despite the hardships facing much of the country, its people maintain a strong sense of national pride and have adapted to major shifts in lifestyle, economy, and infrastructure. Although agriculture was long considered the country’s economic mainstay, less than a quarter of the population is currently employed in farming, compared to over three-quarters in the late 1940s. Initially, opportunities in the industrial sector saw increasing numbers of people relocating from rural communities to the cities, seeking gainful employment and more modern lifestyles. However, recent economic and political issues have led to high unemployment rates across the country.

Labour is deeply connected to the traditional Serbian way of life, and is particularly evident in rural communities. Often sustained by only a handful of people, these communities are bound together by their love of the land, foregoing the conveniences of urban life and staying connected to rural and cultural traditions. They sow land, create and wear customary garments and dress, prepare foods based on decades-old recipes and methods, and stay as independent from urban life as they comfortably can. Despite their dedication, these communities risk disappearing as populations dwindle and residents age.

Connected to the country through her own Serbian heritage, her travels to the region have allowed her to visit the people living in these communities and hear their stories. These photographs provide a glimpse into the lives of those who continue to make these traditions relevant, capturing a point in time where the future of these rich and storied customs is uncertain.

Petrija Dos Santos is a Canadian photo-based artist presently living and working between Canada, Serbia, and Kosovo. Her work examines tradition, collective identity, and the intersection of cultural practice and shifting economic landscapes. Dos Santos holds a BFA with distinction from the Photography Studies program at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts. She has participated in numerous exhibitions at venues such as the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, Artspace at the Gladstone, Ryerson University, and the University of Brighton (UK). Her work has been featured in several publications including SAN, the Serbian Canadian Magazine, and Function Magazine. A Labour of Love is her first solo exhibition.

The RIC Student Gallery showcases the art and curatorial practices of Ryerson University’s current undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni from all disciplines. Rigorous yet inclusive, the program engages audiences with important issues through group or solo exhibitions of contemporary art and historical lens-based media. Presenting six exhibitions per year, the Student Gallery provides valuable, professional experience in the curation and display of artwork.

The exhibitions are selected annually, following a call for submissions, by a committee comprised of staff members from the RIC, along with students, and faculty members from the School of Image Arts.

Ryerson Image Centre
33 Gould Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Free exhibition tours daily at 2:30 pm
Follow us @RICgallery


Media Contact:
Erin Warner, Ryerson Image Centre, / T+416 979 5000 x7032





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