October 27, 2020 – January 10, 2021
Recent challenges to monuments worldwide have illuminated the contested nature of collective memory, confronting commemorative forms and the way they eclipse individual stories, voices of dissent, and other ways of knowing. At the same time, these events have pointed to the importance of strategies of counter-memory, with countless provisional monuments providing visibility to lived experiences that disrupt colonial histories and confront oppression with its silences and exclusions. This exhibition explores art practices in relation to such sites of memory, for these “lieux de mémoire” encompass not only elements of the physical and built landscape for historian Pierre Nora, but accommodate the many ways memory – whether individual or collective – is woven into the tangibility of communities.
Highlighting recent additions to the Art Gallery of Guelph’s collections, the exhibition brings together work by artists who are Black, Indigenous, and persons of colour, including recent gallery purchases, those proposed as part of AGG’s student acquisition program, and those gifted by donors W. Keith Bryant and Martha J. Bryant as well as Milton Winberg. The exhibition is paralleled by Lest We Forget, an installation of paintings gifted to the gallery by artist Charles Pachter from a series commissioned by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario examining the profound legacy of the First World War – a narrative with particular resonance for Guelph.
Sites of Memory is curated by Shauna McCabe and organized by the Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.
Image detail: Kent Monkman, The Transfiguration, 2015, video painting, edition of 5, running time: 4.23 minutes. Anonymous gift, 2020, Art Gallery of Guelph Collection