Workman Arts’ annual Being Scene exhibition is back for its 20th anniversary! Going digital for the first time, Being Scene 2021 was offered virtually and included three exhibitions in one: a guest-curated exhibition of 11 commissioned artworks, a juried exhibition of 60 artists, and a retrospective exhibition honouring the 20th anniversary of Being Scene. The exhibition also included a program of free, virtual events.
With the exhibition scheduled for exactly a year from when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, the curated portion of Being Scene 2021 responded to the tumultuous previous year. Yet rather than proposing a theme orbiting around the pandemic, guest curator Jacqueline Kok encouraged us to think through the different ways in which we respond or have trouble responding to the many deep-rooted scars that have resurfaced as a result of the health crisis, as well as the fluctuating meanings of normality. To Speak Without Speaking, the exhibition curated by Kok, featured new artwork by Workman artists Mei Chan-Long, Jenny Chen, claro cosco, Heather Fulton, Eduardo Hatch, Rick Miller, David Constantino Salazar, Laura Shintani, Apanaki Temitayo, V Vallières, and claude wittmann that illustrate the many individual experiences of this global trauma.
In conjunction with the commissioned works, Being Scene 2021 showcased eighty artworks by artists living with mental health and addiction issues, exploring different conceptual and material approaches that illustrate compelling ideas and narratives inspired by diverse lived experiences. Also included with the virtual Being Scene 2021 programming, a deep dive into the Workman Arts archives explored the first two decades of Being Scene.
A program of free, virtual events accompanying Being Scene— such as public conversations with the curator and commissioned artists — provided the chance to delve deeper into the works on display and the themes raised by the exhibition. Additional events will focus on conversations around current ideas and trends in the arts sector and topics that support the advancement of artistic practices.
Being Scene opened online on March 4, with a virtual opening reception.