Contaminated Systems Photo-Based Works from the Permanent Collection
29 July – 27 September 2000

Oakville Galleries at Centennial Square

This exhibition explores the various ways that our society's interpretation of cultural and personal symptoms has been contaminated and suggests that such contagion effectuates a predisposed categorization of “well-being" in terms of economics, medicine, education, law, relationships, spirituality, sexuality, gender and race.

Symptoms articulate the indisposition of the human body and the malaise of the prevailing milieu, be it reflected in constructed scientific, political or religious institutions, or the often pernicious effects of these powers on our bodies and the natural environment. As such, a salubrious component of symptoms cannot be denied, as it voices a need for active change and restorative care. What happens though, when these symptoms themselves are contaminated; when the very call for cure is infected or skewed?

In North America's relatively healthy current social climate the more subtle annunciations of potential threats are seldom noticed, let alone heeded. At times we anticipate what symptoms might be telling us and thus too easily misread them, or we believe that there are no symptoms at all, basking in a false sense of security. When the symptoms themselves are contaminated due to prejudice, ignorance or insensitivity, astuteness is needed so that our diagnostic processes recognize what a sense of well-being and healing might really be. It is precisely such discernment that the artists in this exhibition demonstrate in their decontamination of symptoms.

Curated by Ruth Kerkham