Allegory of the Cave

NOVEMBER 21, 2013 - JANUARY 1, 2014


The Allegory of the Cave is an extended metaphor, conceived of by the philosopher Plato, for how our understanding of the world is enriched by education. It tells of a group of people who have lived their lives imprisoned in a cave, facing a blank wall. For them, reality is merely the images on the wall; the shadows of the true world behind them, cast by a fire. Philosophers like Plato are prisoners who, through the enlightenment of education, have escaped the cave and experienced true reality, not just its shadows.

In the context of an art gallery, visitors are often only able to see the metaphorical ‘shadows’ - the limited selection of work on display. They remain unaware of the scope of the collections hidden in vaults, dependent on the curator as ‘philosopher’ to exhibit and interpret the true meaning of the artwork. With Allegory of the Cave, the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s first major exhibition of its permanent collection, all that changes.

The permanent collection, normally the realm of curators, collection managers, and conservators, is yours to explore. A classical salon hanging showcases an unprecedented number of significant pieces, juxtaposed with works that represent the AGM’s new collecting focus on lens-based art. As the collection is archived for digital access, the main gallery becomes a photography studio, completely open to the public!

Just as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave suggests a greater truth behind the shadows, this exhibition will result in an online digital archive of the AGM’s collection, accessible to everyone. Join us as we bring Mississauga’s art collection out from the shadows and into our new reality.

Banner image credit: Jiri Ustohal, November Sun, Halton Hills, 1997, watercolour on paper, 49.5 x 64.7 cm. Purchased from the artist with support from the AGM Art Rental and Sales Programme, 2002. 002.8.274.