Last week, as part of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) annual awards celebration, I had the honour of accepting their inaugural award for Innovation in a Collections-based Exhibition for Other Electricities, an exhibition commissioned by and hosted at the Art Gallery of Windsor.
Working with the gallery’s collection, which has been amassed over a 70 year period, I attempted to unsettle its colonial assumptions using only the collection and the gallery as tools. It was a bold proposal and I had no idea if it would work. That OAAG would choose to acknowledge the exhibition in this way seems so hopeful and I imagine that the innovation of the gesture will be undone in the methodolgies other member galleries bring to bear in the collections-based exhibitions they will make, to come.
The award was accompanied by jury notes: “This exhibition presented a rigorous and considered pairing and contrast of modern and contemporary artworks from a range of mediums found in the Art Gallery of Windsor’s permanent collection. The sensitive juxtaposition and exploration of relationships between colonial and Indigenous cultures effectively brought to light issues of sovereignty and the strategies of cultural decolonization. This entire exhibition was further enhanced by the strong curatorial essay presented in the on-line publication which will provide a lasting legacy of this provocative collections-based exhibition.”
I must extend sincere thanks to the Art Gallery of Windsor, to Catharine Mastin, Nicole McCabe, Stephen Nilsson and Chris Hummer, but especially to Srimoyee Mitra, their risk-taking, tough and visionary curator for offering me the opportunity. Thanks also to OAAG for fostering this kind of dialogue across the sector, especially to Demetra Christakos and Veronica Quach for making the awesome spectacle of the awards actually happen.
A full list of 2014 award recipients can be found here. Congratulations to everyone!