Sheltered in Place: Portraits of Self, Family and Community
Chantal Dahan, Max Dean, Christopher Lea Dunning, Robert S. Hyndman, Patrice James, Martha Kyak, Kosisochukwu Nnebe, Ron Noganosh, Faisa Omer, Jessie Oonark, Annie Pootoogook
February 20 – August 15, 2021
Curated by Catherine Sinclair, Rebecca Basciano, and Michelle Gewurtz
“For most people it was obvious that the separation must last until the end of the epidemic. […] This drastic, clean-cut deprivation and our complete ignorance of what the future held in store had taken us unawares; […] In fact, our suffering was twofold; our own to start with, and then the imagined suffering of the absent one…”
— Albert Camus, The Plague, 1947¹
The COVID-19 pandemic has evoked new feelings in us all, whether isolation as we work alone, fear of exposure as essential workers, or claustrophobic anxiety if we live in close quarters. Emotional states such as isolation, fear, or anxiety have given us fresh perspectives on ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Reflecting these challenging times, the exhibition Sheltered in Place offers an expanded definition of portraiture — a traditional artistic genre that should be reconsidered from our current vantage point. The selected artworks, by historical and contemporary artists based primarily in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, include film, installation, sculpture, photography, painting and drawing. Through their varied strategies, these artists raise provocative questions about who we are, and how we perceive and acknowledge others.
Perhaps then, living through the pandemic has offered a potential shift in perspective, as we encounter the people in these portraits. From this fresh frame of mind, we can now more fully understand what these artists have been telling us about themselves and their communities all along.
¹ Albert Camus, “The Plague” (1947), trans. Stuart Gilbert (1948), printed in Albert Camus: The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom and Selected Essays (New York: Everyman’s Library, 2004), p. 60.