Ann Jaeger presents powerful, new, large scale paintings this September, as Evans Contemporary opens the art season, and celebrates its fifth year. The exhibition, Sluggo, imparts a power and edge in Jaeger's series of large, black and white acrylic paintings on tarp. Utilizing elements of collage and hand stitching, Jaeger examines our 21st century diet of collective trauma and powerlessness, along with a side of banal entertainment.




“Trouble in, trouble out, trouble's what this world's about.” *


Access to technology and the internet has brought this to us. On an almost daily basis we witness the unmistakable murder of fellow humans caught on cellphone video, watch streams of refugees risking their lives to escape their ravaged homelands, or see the utter devastation of natural events brought on by global warming, via tv or the internet. There is no rational way to deny the reality of this.

Citizen journalism brings us raw footage of global injustice, which we consume often without context. Our emotions are quickly co-opted and reframed to further someone's political agenda long before we have processed it. Whether victims or witnesses, we have no language for this degree of trauma. The conversation on our Facebook feed vacillates between extremes of shock and outrage, to the utter banality of LOL cats and pictures of our lunch.


Our capacity for empathy is taxed to its limits and our fear is used against us.. The origins of the term “weaponized grief” are unclear, but there is no doubt that our grief is being used to mould us. At the root of this is a soul-eroding sense of powerlessness. But it's not just the grief of losing another black youth for no reason, or a victim of male violence, or another animal species gone extinct, it's also shame at not being able to do more and rage at those in power who do nothing, or worse, create these scenarios.


There are so many of us now. In 1900 there were 1.6 billion people on the planet. Now there are more than 7 billion. We scramble to hold close our families and reach out to desperate strangers alike. Even if we are fortunate enough not to live in a war zone, or are not direct targets of violence, we try to push away the monsters by pretending they don't exist, or locking them in a box through characterization, or behind a physical wall. We believe we should be able to explain things, but we can't. We are paralyzed. Empathy becomes a luxury.


These things are not always talked about. We aren't supposed to dwell on them. We don't want to seem “negative.” It is too big to wrap our heads around it. We hate to be uncomfortable.


But I will talk about it. Sluggo is about all of this: injustice, unbearable sorrow, broken innocence, futility, deception, cynicism, rationalization, revisionism, minimalization, disassociation. It is ugly, unresolved, dirty.


It was 1971 when Pogo said “we have met the enemy and he is us.” What has changed?


*Nappy Roots - Trouble Of This World (Coming Home) / The Ladykillers



Ann Jaeger is a multi-disciplinary artist who trained at OCAD with a speciality in textiles. She currently focuses on painting and writing as well as site specific and curatorial projects. Her work often explores intersections of visual art and text.

For several years she has written Trout in Plaid, an online journal of Peterborough's art scene and is a regular contributor to Electric City Magazine.