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New Ottawa Art Gallery exhibition traces the history of Ottawa–Gatineau hip-hop culture

June 26, 2023

The exhibition, built with contributions from the community, will explore hip-hop’s five pillars: breaking, emceeing, DJ-ing, graffiti, and knowledge through a timeline of art and archives.

Canadian Floor Masters, 1985. Photo : Steve “Buddha” Leafloor

The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and SHIFTER are thrilled to announce the opening of 83 ’til infinity: 40 years of hip-hop in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, an exhibition exploring the stories, legacy, and experiences of hip-hop in the Ottawa–Gatineau region. It will be on view from July 8, 2023, to February 18, 2024, and will open with a summer party on July 8th, which is being sponsored by the RBC Foundation as part of their RBC Emerging Artists program. 

Through a collection of art and borrowed materials, including photographs, posters, clothing, vinyl records, turntables and more, the public will embark on a journey that reveals how hip-hop’s values are deeply rooted in culture, community, activism, and justice. Starting with the Canadian Floor Masters (CFM), a pioneering collective formed in 1983, who’s contributions have served as the foundation for the curators, the show highlight events, artists, and organizations that continue to shape culture and community. The items in the exhibition, shared by community members across the region encourage appreciation for hip-hop’s rich history and its ongoing dynamic role in culture, community, activism, and justice. 

“The Ottawa Art Gallery is committed to recognising Ottawa-Gatineau’s rich cultural history. With this exhibition we are capturing the region’s contribution to hip-hop as a global phenomenon and its innovation in music, language, dance and visual arts. Although it rose from the streets of the Bronx, hip-hop’s impact in our region was and is unique, owing in large part to many key individuals who helped to shape this exhibition.” – Alexandra Badzak, Director and CEO, Ottawa Art Gallery 

Recognizing the contributions of past, present, and future artists, 83 ’til infinity will celebrate the craft and values embedded in hip-hop’s five pillars – breaking, emceeing, DJ-ing, graffiti, and knowledge – and pay homage to the vibrant creativity, innovation, and traditions that shape this influential movement. Several artist mentorship pairings will also be made possible throughout the duration of the exhibition, thanks to the ongoing support of RBC, as part of the OAG’s Connect: Artist Mentorship program and the Ontario Arts Council’s Artist-Presenter Collaboration Grant. 

“When we think about Ottawa, we tend to think tech, government and tourism with the contributions of arts & culture, including hip-hop, being overlooked. 83 ’til infinity is about elevating this forgotten and overlooked culture from the underground; it’s about letting these communities know they are seen and belong within the broader history and identity of Ottawa. At its core, hip-hop is really about community, self-expression, and love, that brings together the voices of Black, Francophone, Indigenous creatives, as well as a new wave of immigrant voices from all over the world who now call Ottawa and Gatineau home. I’m very thankful to the Ottawa Art Gallery for providing a space for their art to be seen and their voices to be heard.” – Kevin Bourne, SHIFTER, co-curator 

“The exhbition is a celebration of innovations, power, and processes, carried by artists, producers, and other creatives from all over the world. We are honoured to be working with SHIFTER to contribute to the dynamism and vibrancy of the scene with this exhibition. And like hip-hop, the exhibition is necessarily a process of learning and sharing. As we learn of experiences in hip-hop, we will adapt the installation between July 8 and February 18, 2024.  Please stay tuned in for new images, partnerships and programs that will unfold over the run of the show.” – Rachelle Dickenson, Ottawa Art Gallery, co-curator 

The exhibition coincides with many milestones such as the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Floor Masters, the 30th year of the House of PainT festival, plus SHIFTER, who will release a documentary by the same name as the exhibition with Dreamland Studios, will celebrate its 10th year, Cranium Festival its 5th, and OAG its 5th year in its new building. It will be launched with a public opening (registration link below) on July 8th starting at 7 pm until 8 pm, including break dancers from the area and community awards presentations. To help celebrate, Cranium will be hosting a ticketed party at the OAG starting at 8:30 pm until 1 am (link below) which will include the celebration of the Canadian Floor Masters and the many excellent people who’ve contributed to our vibrant scene, with a rap battle, dance cypher and live performances from local artists. 

83 ’til infinity will activate OAG from July to February, with activities and events throughout, such as: 

  • Workshops led by exhibition artists such as breakdancing, industry professional development sessions, graffiti, and slam poetry; 
  • Hosting the House of PainT Knowledge Conference;  
  • Mentored mural painting;  
  • School workshops taught by exhibition artists; 
  • Artists talks;  
  • SND*TRK Vol. 2 Album Release;  

Stayed tuned to OAG’s What’s On web page for regular updates and new event listings. 

Featured artists and contributors: Canadian Floor Masters, Dion Prints, Quest from Dreamland Studios, uNATy, HALFSIZEGIANTS, King Kimbit and many more to be announced. 

Listings information: 

83 ’til infinity  
Curated by: Kevin Bourne (SHIFTER), Regatu Asefa (Carleton University) and Rachelle Dickenson (OAG) 
Ottawa Art Gallery, level 4 
Exhibition dates: July 8, 2023 to February 18, 2024 
Opening: July 8, 2023, 7 PM 
RSVP for the Opening here: 
To get tickets to the Cranium Party: 

Ottawa Art Gallery 
10 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1N 6E2 
Rideau O-Train Station  
Admission to the Ottawa Art Gallery is ALWAYS FREE. 

Gallery hours:   

Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday: 10 AM – 6 PM  
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 AM – 9 PM 
Closed Monday  

Media images:

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For media enquiries, please contact: 

Véronique Couillard, Officer, Media, Public and Francophone Relations, 613-291-1358   

About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)  

The Ottawa Art Gallery is situated on traditional Anishinābe Aki and is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

OAG receives funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Ottawa.   


OAG is Open from 10 AM to 6 PM Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday | from 10 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Admission is always FREE. | Register for Summer Art Camps!