We are commemorating the 10th anniversary of our Artist-in-Residence program, which has fostered connections between the museum, local artists, and the wider Ottawa community since 2014. The Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum is seeking applications for its 2024 Artist-in-Residence  we’re calling on talented individuals to join the list of ten esteemed artists who have creatively explored Cold War themes and narratives through their art! 

Do you have a passion for history and an interest in inspiring and educating others? This unique and professional opportunity is your chance to showcase your work on a public platform while delving into and communicating important stories from a critical period in recent world history. Apply today to help us bring new life to the concrete walls of our once-top secret nuclear bunker. 

Learn more about the artists who have shaped our Artist-in-Residence program and brought diverse stories and perspectives to life over the last 10 years. 

Wind Up Radio, 2023

Cold Comfort for a Hot World 

This multi-part exhibition explored how we cope in the face of an uncertain future, taking inspiration from Cold War preparedness that the Diefenbunker exemplifies. Using satirical music and video compositions that contribute to a long history of musical responses to nuclear war, Wind Up Radio invited us to consider an unlikely truth: that levity and laughter may be possible — perhaps even comforting — in moments of fear and helplessness. 

Christos Pantieras, 2022 

Justin Case: The Enemy Within 

 Through a multi-layered installation and a series of reinvented propaganda posters, this exhibition explored the LGBT Purge and the resulting personal struggles of those in the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Pantieras addressed the hidden and “underground” nature of homosexuality in Canada over a period that began in the 1950s during the Cold War and continued up until the mid-1990s. 

Mairi Brascoupé, 2021 

Akìmazinàzowin | An Image of the Land 

Integrating beadwork into a painted map of the region as it exists today, Brascoupé invited us to explore our understanding of place during times of change and uncertainty, and to look at how values may differ, specifically for Indigenous peoples. How can we strive for a future that brings our different perspectives into alignment? 

Image of the 2022 Artist-in-Residence exhibition "Justin Case: The Enemy Within."

Greta Grip, 2020 

Containment: Knit Your .–. Art 

It was the cold and concrete spaces of the bunker that inspired Grip to bring the warmth of knitting to its walls. Grip paralleled the purpose and procedures of the Diefenbunker with those of knitting — something individuals do to contribute to wartime efforts and social causes, or to build community in difficult times. Both the bunker and knitted items provide a form of protection and comfort. 

Carol Wainio, 2019 

Disasters for Little Children 

In this exhibition, Wainio used fairy tales to explore current and past fears. Even the most beloved children’s stories are full of calamity and insecurity. The bunker’s construction and design prompted memories of the Tale of the Tortoise and the Hare. Above ground, the protective building reminded Wainio of a turtle’s shell. The underground level, with its hallways and small rooms, seemed like a rabbit’s warren. 

Anette Hegel, 2018 

Now You See Me 

This multimedia exhibition explored Hegel’s experiences growing up on the frontlines of the Cold War. As a politically engaged artist, research and reflection at the Diefenbunker came at an opportune time, considering the global political climate at the time that gave a certain sense of déja-vu to those who came of age during the Cold War. 

Pixie Cram, 2017 

Emergency Broadcast 

This exhibition utilized fiction, animation, documentation, and installation while exploring the aesthetics of residential and commercial architectural structures. It reinvented a practice of contemporary mobile urban art stemming from the tradition of cinema. The relationship between nature and technology is a recurring theme in Cram’s works, which often depict nature dominating and human characters facing issues of responsibility. 

Anne Frlan, 2016 

The Age of Atomic Anxiety 

After researching a wide range of subjects about the Cold War through the Diefenbunker’s collections and archives, Frlan created a series of metal sculptures that explored the psychological climate during that era. The exhibition occupied several spaces throughout the four-storey underground facility, detailing unique perspectives on a critical time in recent world history. 

Jesse Stewart, 2015 

Geometries and Auralities of Survival 

Stewart was struck by the modernist geometric designs throughout our 100,000-square-foot facility. These geometries were explored in Stewart’s exhibition through photography and the inclusion of artifacts from the museum’s collections. The exhibition also incorporated sound through the documentation of performances and sound installations throughout the residency. 

Gail Bourgeois, 2014 

To warn other Canadians 

This research and exhibition project presented art among the museum’s exhibition spaces. The title was borrowed from a phrase said by former museum guide and Collections Manager, Doug Beaton, and refers to the role the bunker played in housing elements of the federal government in the event of a nuclear attack. Bourgeois’ reflection on this took form in artwork that created a space for reflection.  

Close-up of sculptural tags from the 2022 Artist-in-Residence exhibition "Justin Case: The Enemy Within."
Visitor examines artwork by Marc Adornato displayed at the Diefenbunker.

We invite you to follow in the footsteps of these talented individuals who we have proudly welcomed underground over the last decade. If this is of interest to you or someone you know, we want to hear from you! Solo artists or collaborations from an array of mediums are welcome to apply. Don’t miss your chance to become part of history as we enter this milestone year of our Artist-in-Residence program.  

Applications must be received by Friday, February 23, at 11:59 p.m. ET. 

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