Aiming to make visible the broad range of people working at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Jason Evans collaborated with 12 groups of employees to create the series A long, long time AGO.
Evans worked with each group to create their portrait, in an environment unrelated to their actual job: the kitchen staff in Jackman Hall, for instance. Each person posed doing a favourite leisure activity, and Evans then built compositions—essentially human sculptures—from these elements. The humour that emerges in each portrait stems not from individual appearances but rather from how completely unnatural, even unreadable, the gestures are, as well as from the relationships between bodies, poses, and space. The portraits depict each person involved in something individually meaningful, however abstract, but at the same time they are part of lively and complex collectivities.
Evans ultimately photographed staff in Conservation, Curatorial, Design, Development, Education, Facilities, Finance, Kitchen, Media Productions, Protection Services, Visitor Services, and Prints & Drawings Study Centre volunteers. Several of these portraits will appear on the AGO’s façade, presenting dioramas of life within the institution.
The well-worn opener to many a fairy tale, Evans’ title is a cue that a story is about to begin. In his mind, galleries like the AGO are full of stories about art, artists, and evolving cultural expression. These stories only come alive through those who work at the gallery, at every level. The installation of Evans’ portraits on the AGO’s façade—an artist’s vision of the institution—infuses this reality with a playful new dynamism for all to see. The full commission of 12 works will be shown inside the gallery.
-Sophie Hackett, Assistant Curator, Photography
Presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario. Aimia is the Signature Partner of the AGO’s Photography Collection Program.