From October 4 through January 19, the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa is presenting Carole Condé + Karl Beveridge’s Oshawa: A History of Local 222 (1982-83). While creating this series 35 years ago, the artists conducted interviews with members of the Local 222 Retirees Committee over a two-year period and then staged detailed tableaux to tell the story of the autoworkers union in Oshawa from its beginning in 1937 until the mid-1980s. Today, with the threat of General Motors closing the Oshawa plant in January 2020, the artists have gone back to work with the members of the Local to make a final image in the series.
Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge
Canadian artists Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge moved to New York City in 1969, and soon were at the centre of the burgeoning conceptual art movement. In 1975, they joined the Art & Language journal The Fox (with Joseph Kosuth and Ian Burn) and picketed the Whitney Museum of Art to protest its lack of inclusion of women artists and artists of colour, while critiquing the apolitical minimalism of Donald Judd. This ferment culminated in a major museum show, It’s Still Privileged Art, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1976, just prior to the artists’ return to Toronto in 1977.
By the late 1970s, Condé and Beveridge drew a focus on various issues that were urgent within the trade union movement. Their method of working dialogically with their subjects was invented for the landmark 1981 project Standing Up, and has been refined in numerous subsequent collaborations. In the past three decades, over fifty solo exhibitions of Condé and Beveridge’s work have been presented at major museums and art spaces on four continents, including: the Institute of Contemporary Art (London, UK); Museum Folkswang (Germany); George Meany Centre (Washington); Dazibao Gallery (Montreal); Centro Cultural Recoleta (Buenos Aires); Art Gallery of Edmonton; and the Australian Centre for Photography (Sydney).
Equally, and congruent with the artists’ commitment to accessibility, their work has been displayed in a host of non-art and public settings, such as union halls, billboards, bus shelters and bookworks. The artists continue to work and live in Toronto.