By Atticus Gordon
In Proximity was a beautiful estuary of art, design, and experience. As part of their curatorial class at the University of Ottawa, Sarah Jasmine Hodgson, Mylene Iacobucci, Caroline Stewart, Creanna Hope Wade, Loren Wang, and Laura-Anne Zaporzan spent the better part of their semester curating In Proximity for Gallery 115.
Bold and colourful, the exhibition brought together a variety of artworks, from video to digital photography and multimedia work. Behind these pieces, the walls were adorned with large painted shapes unifying and hinting at design. Although bold and full of colour, there was an eerie feeling electrifying the exhibition. You were asked to question your role as a viewer, to reconsider yourself as a passive gallery-goer and become an active voyeur or participant in each work.
All the exhibiting artists are Ottawa-based, ranging from emerging to established. Each artist uniquely probed the question of spectatorship. Justin Wonnacott posited you at the cite of a crime, while Kelsey Mcgruer offered a peephole into a private moment. Ryan Stec reworked surveillance footage into dreamlike patterns, while Brianna Fitzgerald’s work recorded the amount of time spent looking at it. Last but not least, Mercedes Ventura’s photographs critically recreated “thirst traps.”
The strength of the exhibition was how cohesively each artist explores spectatorship, surveillance, and how we interact with artwork. The materials and the works spoke for themselves, they were tangible, and the result was an accessible exhibition. Sarah Hodgson described her team’s goal with the exhibition as “to activate Gallery 115 in a way that has previously never been done, and as a way to facilitate programming around the concept.”
The exhibition left you with, in Sarah Hodgson’s words, a “reflection on how we create a culture around certain ways of viewing.” The way we look at images as a culture without considering our role as viewer and its repercussions.
Gallery 115 is located on the main floor of 100 Laurier Avenue East, on the University of Ottawa campus. Admission to the gallery is free.