16 November 2002 – 19 January 2003
at Centennial Square
Curated by Marnie Fleming
You won't find any soccer moms, golf-bag-toting dads, streets brimming with SUVs, or kids playing road hockey in Susan Dobson's photographs; their presence is felt through their absence. Her careful documentation of the quotidian and the absurd, in and around Oakville, offers a rich account of life in-between the urban city centre and the rural expanse.
Dobson has an acute awareness of how our public space is changing. Convivial gathering and meeting places have been increasingly displaced by an exaggerated private domain: shopping malls, private clubs and gated communities. Even the street, our most basic public space, is given over to the car and its accommodation, while our private world becomes more and more isolated behind closed doors. As a long time resident of Oakville, it is the streets and homes of this town that are a particular lure for this photographer.
While some would say that it is easy to be cynical about the suburbs and deliver a menacing message, Dobson's work is filled with wit and humour. The artist is particularly interested in how front doors – in their cookie-cutter sameness – are made distinctive and unique by their owners. In presenting them in a linear fashion, she allows the viewer to speculate on their potential and discern their differences and commonalities. She also has fun with the double door blight of garages by underscoring their banality and turning them into paint chip samples, with such quizzical and exotic names as Rice Pudding and Orchid Blush.
While the images are specifically focused on the locale of Oakville, they could be from anywhere in North America. This exhibition is about the transformative effects of modernity as revealed by our everyday experience of the sprawling landscape.