Curator, Propped

Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON, June 25-September 2, 2017.  

Abbas Akhavan, Maya Ben-David, Vincent Chevalier, Mark Clintberg and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Chris Curreri, Geoffrey Farmer, Oliver Husain, Aaron Jones, Eleanor King, Bev Koski, Duane Linklater, Divya Mehra, Hazel Meyer, Bridget Moser, Public Studio, Walter Scott

To propose, to proposition, to prop up: “Propped” explores the varied functions and meanings of the prop in the work of contemporary Canadian artists, examining how objects make and shape history. The word “prop” suggests an inanimate but moveable object that must be activated by a human subject, one that is neither autonomous, nor a backdrop for human activity, but something in between: a “thing” that gains meaning through the context of its use.

And yet, these artists’ works demonstrate that props are more than mere things. Through strategies of archival research, staged photography, stand-up comedy, and assemblage, the artists in “Propped” position props as highly charged objects that mediate identities and frame our relationship to politics and the landscape.

Several works treat props as the supplementary materials of statecraft: the objects that set the stage for histories to be written and rewritten. In others, props are vital to processes of self-definition, working to create personae through human-object relations that are comedic, heartfelt or implicitly violent. Props can also take on a life of their own, acting on human subjects rather than being activated by them.

Through these diverse practices, props emerge as tools for proposing alternative pasts and new futures for objects, revealing the unexpected power everyday things can wield.

Propped is made possible in part through the support of volunteers in the Oakville-Milton-Halton Hills St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.

Public Programming:

Opening Reception
Sunday, June 25, 2017, Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square, 2:30 pm–3:30 pm; in Gairloch Gardens, 3:30 pm–5:00 pm

Screening: Oliver Husain, Rushes for Five Hats
Sunday, June 25, 4:15 pm at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens.

Screening: Vincent Chevalier, Props: The Living End
Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 7 pm, FAG (Feminist Art Gallery), 25 Seaforth Ave, Toronto, ON
As part of his ongoing research project, Props, Vincent Chevalier will lead a free, participatory screening of the 1992 film, The Living End.

Talk: Jane Urquhart on objects
Thursday, July 6, 2017, 6 pm, Centennial Square Library, Oakville, ON
Author Jane Urquhart discusses her writing about 50 objects that have shaped Canadian history in relation to the exhibition.

Participants from Abbas Akhavan’s work will be present at Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens each day between 2:00 and 3:00 pm.