In “The Blue Pill,” Jennifer Chan uses video, sculpture, webpages, sound, and print to explore her frustrated relationship with radical politics, workplace mundanity, and equality. The exhibition's title is taken from a crossroad scene in “The Matrix,” where the lead character, Neo, is presented with the choice to "take the red pill" or the “blue pill.” To “take the red pill” means he must confront and resist the excruciating reality of human subjugation and exploitation within a simulated cityscape that’s controlled by machines. To “take the blue pill,” would mean he conveniently rejects this arcane knowledge in favour of living out a comfortable yet inauthentic lie. These terms have since been co-opted by online members of Men’s Rights Activist groups who equate their radical anti-woman and sometimes-xenophobic philosophies with “taking the red pill.” Opting to see the world through their lens means opening one’s eyes to how inclusion and equality are actually veiled attacks on men, limiting their freedom for the elevation of women and other marginal groups. Chan’s work undermines this ideology through direct confrontation with its hyperbolic rhetoric; presenting “the blue pill” as a palatable alternative to MRA agendas, while highlighting the commodification of progressive politics as they move into the mainstream. Chan examines how “equality” and “diversity” become buzzwords divorced from their original intent, repurposed for political maneuvering and marketing.
In a public project coinciding with “The Blue Pill,” enabled through the gracious sponsorship of Juggernaut Computers, the AGSM will blanket downtown Brandon with a free public Wi-Fi hotspot that replaces the usual terms of agreement with an intersectional update of Valerie Solanas’s 1967 radical feminist “SCUM Manifesto,” entitled “Society for Cutting Up Misogynists.”
Support for this programming has been provided by:
Divya Mehra works in sculpture, print, drawing, book making, installation, and advertising to addresses the long-term effects of colonization and institutional racism. Re-contextualizing references found in hip-hop culture, literature, and current affairs, she exposes racism and discomfort implicit in the language that often frames the rhetoric and construction of diversity. In Pouring Water on a Drowning Man, allusions to trauma, isolation and death are transformed into darkly humorous visual cues, made up of sculptural and text-based work. Exploring issues of diasporic identities, racialization, otherness, and the construct of diversity, Mehra's work explores a dialogue and discourse limited only by our apprehension to perceived difference, and our hyper-willingness to have it immediately labelled and classified.