A history of Local 222 exhibit is on display from Oct. 4 until Jan. 19 at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The opening reception is set for Oct. 5 from 2 to 4 pm.m
For over 40 years, artists Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge have been creating urgent and insightful work that challenges the status quo and brings to light the important issues facing our time. With unwavering attention and unapologetic political analysis, Condé + Beveridge’s work continues to explore the social and environmental impacts of globalization, racial inequality, class struggle, gendered labour divisions, precarity, and the complex struggles of consensus building. In tandem to this practice, they have worked collaboratively with union members and fellow artists, bringing the labour movement and art world into dialogue and in doing so, have transformed them both.
This exhibition presents the photo series Oshawa: A History of Local 222 (1982-83), a comprehensive body of work that traces the history of the autoworkers union in Oshawa from its formation in 1937 through to the mid-1980s. To produce the work, Condé + Beveridge spent two years interviewing and working with members of the Local 222 Retirees Committee. The resulting work, uses intricately staged tableaux to narrate the workers struggle from the perspective of women working in the plant and highlights gender-specific inequalities, including the fight for married women to be able to work and the inclusion of women in the union.
Looking back over the past 35 years since this series was made, we can see the reversal of many hard-won rights, the slow erosion of jobs and the waning strength of the union. With the threat of General Motors of Canada closing the Oshawa plant in January 2020, Condé + Beveridge have returned to work with members of the Local to create a final image in the series. The large-scale photomural pictures members of the union leadership confronting corporate executives and politicians as they stage a burial for the jobs that will be lost at the plant. Working collaboratively with current members of the union, the piece opens up new possibilities for cooperation, solidarity and artistic production, blurring the distinction between art and work, and aesthetics and politics.