Curator: Meghan Ho
In Playing Dead, artist Joyce Crago turns the camera on the objects left in the wake of a loved one’s death and on her own aging body to create a stirring series of work that investigates the vulnerable intimacies of death. Here, Crago captures detritus from her sister, Hazel’s funeral and tenderly engages with Hazel’s clothing to shed metaphoric layers of mourning, while an image of an undulating textile work – created from a life-sized photograph of the artist’s body – presents a reflection on mortality. A moving exploration of the inevitable, Playing Dead, in the artist’s own words: “questions our impulse to hold onto each other and reconstitute ourselves through remnant traces.”
Recipient of the 2021 Project X Photography Award, Joyce Crago’s practice includes photography, performance, video, sculpture, and installation. In 2020, work from her Playing Dead series was featured at the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, won the Grand Prize at RMG Fridays: Focused at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, and was included in Hindsight: 2020 Additions to the City of Ottawa Art Collection. In 2021, more pieces from this body of work were added to the City of Ottawa Art Collection and parts of this series were shown at the Esperanto Gallery.
The Project X Photography Award recognizes and celebrates the merits of a publicly presented photographic project by an Ottawa-based artist. The award recipient is selected by a jury of arts, photography, and media experts and is presented by SPAO, the Ottawa Art Gallery, and the Ottawa Arts Council, with supporting sponsor DAÏMÔN.
Joyce Crago’s Playing Dead series was created with support from the Ontario Arts Council.
The Project X Photography Award is presented by SPAO, the OAG, the Ottawa Arts Council, and supporting sponsor DAÏMÔN.
Project X Award: Playing Dead by Joyce Crago, installation view, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2021. Photo: Amity Bradbury