Community Watch is the second in a series of year-long exhibitions which explore the depths of our Permanent Collection and the roles it plays in society. Since the 1960s, the idea of community has evolved significantly as a result of urbanization and mass media. The experience of knowing your neighbours has been replaced, in many cases, by apathy, isolation, and even paranoia. It is not too much to say that the idea of community itself has been under a kind of surveillance.
Artists have been among those whose observation has helped us understand evolving ideas of community. At times their work affirms our belief in social groups as spaces of belonging, where identities are nurtured and protected. At other times, they pull the veil back on the exclusions which all too often lie behind our happy group portraits. Wilf Perreault’s painting Guiding Light, which stands at the entrance to this exhibition, can be seen as an emblem of urban inclusion where kids play and neighbours talk; near to it, a figure sleeping on a park bench in Alex Colville’s print Köln Express speaks to those on the outside looking in.
Throughout the exhibition, artists provide commentary on current challenges to community, whether rooted in war, racism, sexism, ageism, environmental change, or economic oppression. In many works, a hopeful image emerges of the possibilities of collective action through the agency of artists, women, Indigenous peoples, families, spiritual communities—even organized sports. Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to join these artists in watching community—to celebrate its beauty, acknowledge its darker corners, and consider what positive contributions they can make.
A PROGRAM OF SCREENINGS CURATED BY JANINE WINDOLPH, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF INDIGENOUS ARTS, BANFF CENTRE, ALBERTA, WILL COMPLEMENT THE EXHIBITION.
kiskisiyâpiyawin ‘threads of memory’ is a curation of short films by Janine Windolph that weaves Indigenous stories with diverse perspectives from across Canada, from before and during the pandemic. The films feature stories from filmmakers that highlight resilience and recovery drawing from memories and experiences, each a thread in the larger collective fabric.