Agency – the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices.
As a society, we are just now beginning to understand that agency and decision-making have been the privilege of only a few and that many more voices need to be invited to this table of power and independence. Seniors are usually overlooked when thinking about diversification and inclusivity. The Collective Agency Project, a group of senior Vancouver artists, counters this, giving voice and presence to an age group often relegated to the fringes of society with their time of usefulness deemed over.
The Collective Agency Project was formed in January 2020 through an open call of the Public Art Program, City of Vancouver, at Hillcrest Centre. The proposal was both straightforward and yet deeply complex: seniors were invited to join a two-year project that would introduce them to photography as a multifaceted art practice in order to produce an extensive body of work that would result in an exhibition and public art project. Led by Vancouver curator Ann Pollock, and artists Christos Dikeakos, and Birthe Piontek, with additional expertise and support from artists Barrie Jones, Henri Robideau, and Harry Killas, the aim was to turn art into an agent of change.
Through the idea of collectively joined artistic voices, this project takes agency through art, plus a counter position on the boundaries and stereotypes of ageing, and fading senior artists at large. The work engages with complex ecologies of the cultural, political, and environmental while examining the inspirational origins of place, both real and imaginary, with its sources of inspiration. It recognizes and showcases the powerful and layered visions that emerge from many years of varied experiences that are both deeply personal, as well as political.
Artists at the Pendulum Gallery exhibition include: Oonagh Berry, Ann Daskal, Annemarie Etsell, Verena Foxx, Greg Helem, Schula Leonard, Keith Anthony Martin, Mickey McCaffrey, Judith Snider.
The Collective Agency Project is made possible through the public art requirement for OPAL by element and produced by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program in partnership with Arts & Health: Healthy Aging Through the Arts, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.
Exhibition Dates for Five-Part Project:
Part I: April 18 – May 13, 2022, Pendulum Gallery
Part II: March 14 – May 15, 2022, Digital Still Image Billboards
Part III: April 23 – May 15, 2022; April 2022 – April 2023, Hillcrest Centre
Part IV: Summer 2022, The Collective Agency Project, film by Harry Killas
Part V: Summer 2022, The Collective Agency Project