McMaster Museum of Art exhibition Chasm featuring the work of a number of different artists is rooted in ideas of Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation in the face of colonialism
The Chasm exhibition had its opening reception on Sept. 28 from 5-8 p.m. at the McMaster Museum of Art. This exhibition will be open for public viewing until Dec. 8, 2023 on the first floor. The fourth floor of the museum will remain on view until Jan. 26, 2024.
This exhibition presents a wide range of cross-cultural viewpoints and understandings of the museum's collection, which encompasses recent acquisitions.
Chasm approaches the examination of colonialism's power dynamics within the museum from a distinctive standpoint, drawing inspiration from transcultural perspectives on resistance.
The curators of this exhibition are Pamela Edmonds, a visual and media arts curator focused on decolonization and politics of representation, and Betty Julian, an adjunct senior curator at M(M)A. Through various forms of artwork, they wanted to create a space to address unfair power imbalances and foster meaningful discussions about the oppressive structures inherent in colonialism, particularly museums.
The curators hope that viewers will be inspired to reflect and think critically about the influences of colonialism, patriarchy, capitalism and racism on art institutions.
“Chasm is both a challenge and an invitation to the visitor. As museums seek to transform themselves in terms of for whom they exist, what role they play, what stories they tell, what ideological direction they record and influence; the M(M)A is determined to not just listen to the conversations but contribute to them in meaningful and active ways,” said Carol Podedworny, Director and Chief Curator at the M(M)A in a statement on M(M)A website.
During the opening ceremony of Chasm, it was evident that the curators and artists were passionate about their work and aimed to do their part in changing the inequity in art institutions by allowing their voices to be heard.
Edward Lovo / Silhouette Staff
Resistance resides in the critique; action propels it forward. The critical activist exists in the space between actuality and possibility. In the consummation of what may be, there runs the risk that the latter in an effort to have it lose its critical function; to pacify all momentum of resistance that traces the movement, absorbs the possibility to which actuality is opposed.
The success of the absorption of possibility into actuality removes the activist from a critical space to a miasma that suffocates the cries of opposition.
Critical activists speak in the language of critique; the language of critique is forged in the fires of the struggle for equity.
In a move to quench the fire, those in power assimilate the language of critique into an extension of the language of power: the watermark of absorption. At once, to develop a new language of critique becomes imperative for the critical activist in order to not hand over the strings to those in power to puppeteer the understanding of equity. Failure to do so buttresses those in power with a masquerade of equity, pantomiming a show of justice while muting the oppressed as obstructive and divisive in their own chase for justice.
Divisiveness characterizes the struggle for equity; the struggle for equity is the raison d’être of divisiveness. A struggle that does not challenge the existence of those in power is not a struggle, but a cooperative effort that ultimately serves their interests.
To challenge the existence of those in power is also to challenge the mechanisms by which the disenfranchised are disenfranchised, or produced perpetually by the same mechanisms that accord power to some.
Threads of history and culture are laced through our person, so from the beginning we are not entirely our own—there is so much unbecoming just so that a person might chance becoming. Critical activists unravel our existences - a painful process which is the reason for divisiveness. Without an examination of existence, the element of resistance constitutive of the struggle for equity is lost to oblivion.
Activists who caricature the dynamic of struggle between their critical counterparts and those in power as a lamentable antagonism begin to speak in the language of power.
Unwittingly, these activists hold a basin of tears collected from the oppressed to wash the hands of those in power from responsibility.
Neither divisiveness nor discomfort is an omen but evidence of the dismantling of the structures of power, which are the conditions of the existence of the dynamic between oppressor and oppressed.
Critical activists refuse to crack their soul by the mallet of compromise, to shatter to the pieces that give their core of self the semblance of crystal—we are not so fragile.
The lightning of resistance surges through our words and movements “working with” those in power; those in power will never know of complicity in the struggle for equity.