The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
20 February – 11 April 1999
at Centennial Square
Curated by Sylvie Fortin
Organized and circulated by the Ottawa Art Gallery
Working in separate countries and coming from different backgrounds, Keith Piper and Ramona Ramlochand share a similar understanding of personal identity. Both of these artists use the construction of hybrid post-colonial subjectivity as a starting point for their artmaking, and present montages of photographic imagery, video projection, spatial constructions and sound. The exhibition The Night Has a Thousand Eyes brings together multimedia installations by these two artists.
Born in Malta in 1960 and currently living and working in London, England, Keith Piper has produced some of Britain's most distinctive and challenging work since the beginning of the 1980s. Emerging at a time when Black artists were declaring a new and radical voice in England, Piper's work powerfully interpreted the inequities and struggles of Black diasporan experience for a broad audience.
Although Montréal artist Ramona Ramlochand has been a Canadian resident since 1967, she too is familiar with a trans-cultural experience. Born in Guyana in 1958, she moved with her family to London, England, then to Cyprus, and as an adult has traveled extensively in Africa and South East Asia. A photo-based installation artist with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Ottawa, her work speaks of the ambiguity of ‘place’ and our relationship to it, examined through photographic montages of the exotic and the familiar.
In addition to Ramona Ramlochand's new photographic installation Journey to Nowhere and Keith Piper's montage of sound and images The Exploded City, this exhibition presents a collaborative work by them. The Night Has a Thousand Eyes juxtaposes an enticing yet disturbing sound montage with grainy black and white images from a surveillance camera (positioned at the entrance to the gallery space), and lush, enhanced video footage of computer-generated images. The layering of the images and sound illustrates the interconnectedness of place and experience, and forces us to recognize the condition of shifting boundaries that characterize our age of digitization and surveillance. The installation proposes an examination of history, not as an authoritative text, but as a fluid, transitory and subjective space open to interpretations based on positions, memory and perception.
“Keith Piper and Ramona Ramlochand embrace the complexity and the cacophony of the world in which they live,” writes the exhibition’s Curator Sylvie Fortin, “and reflect it through excess and sensory overload. Perhaps out of this hyperactivity will emerge the possibility to imagine the world anew.”