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madskills: Self-Documenting Construction on Social Media

Exhibition, Octagonal gallery, 7 June 2024 to 20 October 2024

madskills: Self-Documenting Construction on Social Media investigates popular social media clips documenting construction work by those present on site. Inspired by the rise of the creator economy, contractors, builders, and tradespeople have started to record and share their skills, creativity, and concerns with a digitally connected community of peers, clients, and construction enthusiasts through shares, likes, follows, and comments. The diffusion of these images and reels and the emergence of this trend heighten the visibility of the construction industry, workers, and their material culture and practices.

Juxtaposing digitally produced content with items from the CCA collection, the exhibition explores how the visual representation of construction processes has changed with the use of social media, as control over its distribution has shifted to include everyone involved and more. Where past documentation practices largely tended to subject labourers to the gaze of the camera or removed their presence on building sites altogether, visually skilled operators now place their bodies, tools, and the machines they use at the centre of their digital output—setting the tone for broader conversations about work and working in the built environment. What does this new approach to documenting their work and public image mean for them, and how is the public’s perception of labour and workers in the building sector influenced by these new innovative, performative, and often funny documents?

madskills is part of a longer, ongoing investigation at the CCA into the use of photography and new media as a means of studying the built environment. This new chapter on digitally produced content engages with questions of agency, authorship, and ethics around the presentation and citation of such material.

Curator: Hester Keijser
Curatorial team: Charlie-Anne Côté with Emma Rath
Video research and editing: Luuk Smits
Graphic design: Christian Lange, COCCU
Design development: Anh Truong, Sébastien Larivière
Digital production: Camille Lavallee Prairie

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