Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens & at Centennial Square
Curiously, Oakville Galleries' 25th anniversary managed to sneak up on the staff. This unexpected arrival helped set the tone for marking the occasion. Rather than resting comfortably in the security of a solid number like 25, we opted to focus on the history of this institution as a work in progress. Two key archives exist from which to draw a picture of our past programming: the permanent collection and exhibition publications. A third, and rather intangible source, is the individual memories of these exhibitions.
Soft passages combines permanent collection pieces with borrowed works from past programming, and aims to take all three of these histories into consideration. But it steers its focus to the gaps in between. Soft passages includes previously exhibited works which lack public documentation, pieces from the permanent collection that we are showing for the first time, and works that announce their presence with a quiet voice. The process of looking back that accompanies an event such as a 25th anniversary is a process of questioning, remembering and re-evaluating. The aim of Soft passages is to contribute to a process of activating the archives of permanent collections and exhibition histories of institutions. Rather than tallying our successes, the moment is used to take time to reframe the way our history has thus far been written.
The process is of course impossible to complete, the holes of documentation impossible to fill. Much has slipped through the archives, and many works have undoubtedly not been given their due. This exhibition is intended as one act of shifting the archives, one attempt at revisiting a history and intervening on its smooth narrative. Hopefully, Soft passages will succeed in adding some footnotes to Oakville Galleries' story and aid in keeping the process of building art history open for interpretation.