Class Maintenance (2003) In 2002, Condé and Beveridge met with elementary and secondary school custodians in Edmonton. Together with theatre director Don Bouzek, they conducted a series of visual workshops that are the basis for the five images. The project was commissioned by the Edmonton Art Gallery, and produced in collaboration with Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 474.
The union members acted out the stories they wished to tell. The main story that evolved from the workshops was the sense of responsibility and commitment the workers have towards the children for whom they maintain the schools. As custodian Trevor Stewart said: “One of the things that may not be in a lot of job descriptions is tying Johnny’s shoes and helping Mary with her coat. It’s as much about comforting a child as it is about cleaning.”
The artists photographed five of the workers, who have their portrait combined with an image of themselves acting in stories that centred on their relationship to the children they clean and care for. Sets were then built in Toronto and the artists brought in local school children to play the role of the kids in the photographs. The images move from kindergarten through to high school graduation. The final images were assembled digitally and exhibited in the gallery and as backlight images in the Edmonton LRT transit station next to the gallery.