In the spring of 2002 Oakville residents collaborated with Susan
Dobson, a local artist known for her documentation of a town's
growth into generic urban sprawl. Seeing the details of the
residents' living spaces through their eyes, Dobson worked to
photographically "frame" their lives in the form of an image of
a key room. The resulting photographs, saturated with colour and
detail, were produced in high-resolution digital and print forms
to reveal the rich material evidence of a private space.
These images were released via key communication systems in
Oakville: a community newspaper, the local library web site and
at the main entrance of the central branch of the library. Each
week, people could see a four-picture installment of the full
collection of sixteen. In an attached form they were invited to
guess what kind of people lived within these rooms and in what
district the house was located.
Like the lure of peering into a well-lit room at night, many
accepted the invitation to look in and guess what kind of people
lived there. The townspeople's assumptions about each other were
aired publicly through an electronic bulletin board. In the
first part of the project stereotypes as well as insights
surfaced in the speculation around the mystery subjects'
neighbourhoods, lifestyles, households and values.
The second part of the project revealed the inhabitants'
identities through their own descriptions of the way in which
the room was a reflection of their lives.
Home Truths set out to create an interactive presentation for
Dobson's community-based work. A close collaboration between
Oakville Galleries, the newspaper and the library was central to
intercepting a wide cross-section of the population as newspaper
readers, library users, internet surfers and gallery visitors.
Oakville is a community undergoing significant changes in its
population. The old measures of civic pride, a shared history
and stable institutions are giving way to more dynamic and fluid
means for feeling part of a group. The library is on-line,
communication is through roving cell phones - mobility and
flexibility are the canons of life. To feel and picture oneself
as part of a community requires the use of networks. Through
encouraging speculation about lives that share the same
geographical location but may exist worlds apart Home Truths
celebrates our curiosity about each other and the integration of
modern technology into our lives.
We encourage feedback on this project.
Head of Public Programmes