January 19 – May 14, 2023
Out of nowhere a community, a sacred community, forms, fueled by the unforeseen chance to fight back. Decades drift away. Decades of gutting what was left of the social contract…. Once in a lifetime the unpredictable occurs and reality gets redefined. – Michael Taussig
How do we change the world? This exhibition offers a glimpse of a social aesthetic, a visual culture of protest, emerging in and through mobilization, participation, and action. Blurring the lines between artist and community, precedents can be traced throughout the twentieth century: the artful interventions of the Bauhaus, the transformation of the everyday integral to Fluxus happenings, and the profound thread of the personal, the political, and the social in the work of second-wave feminists like Mary Kelly, Yoko Ono, Joyce Wieland, and Faith Ringgold. The banners and flags on view here come from artists Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch, Jordan Bennett, Allyson Mitchell and Deirdre Logue, Jenna Reid, Aram Han Sifuentes (Protest Banner Lending Library), and Slavs and Tatars, as well as local organizations and activists including Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, the Midwifery Task Force, and street artist, Lionel. Infused with both craft and community, they advocate for human rights to clean water, resources, safety, asylum, citizenship, equality, and participation. And while each speaks to a distinct time and place, together they point to how protest movements around the world are seen and heard, mapping a history of social change and a society that is yet to come.
Curated by Shauna McCabe and Pearl Van Geest and organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.
Image detail: Slavs & Tatars, Friendship of Nations: Self Management Body, 2011. Collection of the Art Gallery of Guelph.