2013 Galerie SAW Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario)

For the second OO7 exhibition, the Collective were invited to exhibit by the City of Ottawa through the Parks, Recreational and Cultural Services who were hosting the 2013 Summit for the Creative Cities Network of Canada. The theme for the summit was Recalculating: Culture in a Digital World. Caleb Abbott, former Program Coordinator in the Community Arts and Social Engagement section approached the OO7 Collective to develop a thematic exhibition of work in response to the 2013 theme. The OO7 agreed and approached senior artist Robert Houle as the second OO7 Special Agent. Robert Houle was already included in the 2013 blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in Ottawa entitled Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art. The NGC were approaching galleries and institutions in Ottawa to partner and present exciting installations and exhibitions alongside Sakahàn. The OO7 Collective’s exhibition IN/digitized: Indigenous Culture in a Digital World was presented in partnership with the City of Ottawa for the Creative City Networks of Canada, Galerie SAW Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada.

The second exhibition was not without controversy. The first proposed venue was Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts that is situated in a deconsecrated Catholic church in the Byward Market. Controversy quickly mounted when a representative attempted to intervene in what work could and could not be exhibited due to the sexual and spiritual nature of the work. The OO7 informed Caleb Abbott and withdrew its interest in exhibiting at Saint Brigid’s.  A second venue was found, and this time the proposed exhibition would be mounted in the lobby the newly constructed Ottawa Conference Centre in downtown Ottawa. Again, when the OO7 Collective members and the City of Ottawa met with Conference Centre staff, it was determined that Robert Houle’s multi-media work that projected replicating smallpox virus and its deliberate infection and subsequent impact that decimated many Indigenous nations may be offensive to participants of an upcoming medical conference that would coincide with the OO7 exhibition. Again, the OO7 withdrew its interest from exhibiting with the Ottawa Conference Centre. Finally, curator Jason St-Laurent of Galerie SAW Gallery heard about the ensuing and disturbing controversies surrounding the previous proposed venues and approached Caleb Abbott, offering the OO7 an unrestricted and censorship-free exhibition space during a two-week lull between SAW’s existing exhibition schedule. The OO7 graciously accepted the opportunity and the exhibition opened on May 23rd and ran until May 31, 2013.

Participating artists:

  • Barry Ace (Founding Member)
  • Rosalie Favell (Founding Member)
  • Ron Noganosh (Founding Member)
  • Leo Yerxa (Founding Member)
  • Frank Shebageget
  • Ariel Smith
  • Bear Witness

Special Agent: Robert Houle

IMAGES: Caleb Abbott unless otherwise noted.

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