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Exhibition: Republic of the Other at Gallery 101—until 02.09.19

By Helen Lam on January 16, 2019

Gallery 101’s new exhibit, Republic of the Other, is a small but intriguing corner of Ottawa’s fine art scene. In a city where institutions are regularly tasked with supporting the nation building project, this exhibit offers a different take on nationhood and borders.

Photo: Helen Lam

The exhibit is a collaborative project by artists Xenia Fink, Guillermo Trejo and Jinny Yu. The installed works, made especially for the Gallery 101 space, are reflections on the ambiguous relationship between the individual and the nation. The print and multimedia pieces are designed to question the whole idea of national boundaries and cultural identity. The mostly monochrome installations are simple and stark, and yet take the audience beyond the black and white into the realm of ambiguity.

Photo: Helen Lam

The works don’t seem to be advocating the abolition of national boundaries, rather, they are an attempt to assert the nature of the individual in spite of them. You get the feeling that the old ways of defining a person are no longer enough but the new ways are not quite here yet.

You get the feeling that the old ways of defining a person are no longer enough but the new ways are not quite here yet.

An interesting subtext to the works is the strictures that group identity puts on an individual, and how that creates a sense of alienation from the self.

Photo: Helen Lam

The underlying tension to the exhibit is that even though boundaries are there to be questioned, they also exist for a reason. The texts in the exhibit are written in one language to the exclusion of others. The installations present certain points of view at the expense of others. These boundaries both limit forms of expression and create a shared meaning which makes them able to be understood by a community.

Photo: Helen Lam

If you haven’t been to Gallery 101 since it moved from Young Street, this is an opportunity to see what its next incarnation offers. It’s a compact gallery tucked in between businesses across from the Greyhound Station. The presence of an artistic sensibility on Catherine Street is bound to impact the community in positive ways. We’re excited to see what the gallery has in store for the rest of 2019.

Republic of the Other is on at Gallery 101 from January 12–February 9, 2019. Visit the exhibit site for more details. Follow RotO on Instagram @republic_of_the_other.