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“What We Bring to the Table”—Food for Thought in Oakville

A group exhibition situates the dinner table as a locus for both awkward and meaningful daily exchanges of emotion in “What We Bring to the Table” at Oakville Galleries’ Gairloch Gardens location. Curated by Marnie Fleming, the exhibition reveals the kitchen table as a space where human subjects are often “too close for comfort,” blurring the line between casual intimacy and charged claustrophobia. In Bettina Hoffmann’s projected videos, for instance, a camera slowly circles the staged tableau of a family posed around a dinner table, gradually revealing the subjects’ exaggerated gestures and physical relationship to fellow diners. No matter how many times it circles the table, there is not enough visual information to understand the narrative: the viewer is left feeling awkwardly implicated in the scene while distant from its significance. Laura Letinsky’s detailed photographs of tabletops after a shared dinner, on the other hand, document the material specificity of eating and treat scraps of food, crumpled napkins and scattered cutlery as an index for human social relations.

In contrast, the Canadian artistic duo T&T’s series of whimsical but pragmatic drawings and models show nomadic characters foraging for material debris to create utopic architectural environments outside of the family structure. “Onward Future,” on view at the Oakville Galleries’ downtown location to May 11, is the first retrospective for the pair, whose work harnesses the physical remnants of a past society to create new possibilities for an ecologically sound and socially harmonious landscape. (1306 Lakeshore Rd E and 120 Navy St, Oakville ON)

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