NOTE: This post deals only with the art situation that was described to me for the G20 media centre. The art situation for G8 and G20 political venues is different, and is described in a more recent post here.
There's been uproar aplenty about the fake lake in the G20's media pavilion--uproar that is certainly well deserved! Yet there's been little discussion of other aspects of the "Experience Canada" pavilion (as it's pegged), like, say, which artists will be representing Canada to the 3,000+ media representatives coming from all over the world.
Yes, that's right, the FAQ for Experience Canada promises "art installations" that will help media access "100s of hours of b-roll material to assist them in story development about Canada".
So who, exactly, are these artists? Mostly Muskokan, as it turns out. Just like the fake lake's chairs. Here's the list I got from a representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade:
Tom Bendtsen - The Ontario artist's Luminato installation—"a towering sculpture of over 15,000 books" currently showing at the Toronto Reference Library—will be moved to Experience Canada after L-fest wraps up. (photo from Bentsen's 2008 Nuit Blanche installation from Fuck, yeah! Books)
Max Streicher - This Toronto artist and former Albertan is known for inflatable sculptures that have been widely shown. Experience Canada will show his Horses. (photo from Flickr user Product of Newfoundland)
Lloyd Walton - A Muskoka landscape and still-life painter, formerly a cinematographer, whose exhibitions include the Canadian International Auto Show and the Canadian Consulate in New York. Yep! (image from Walton's website)
Brenda Wainman Goulet - A Huntsville/Muskoka artist who creates stone and bronze sculptures of trees, otters and canoes. (Image from Goulet's website)
Nathalie Bertin - A Newmarket artist who paints people, chickens, animals, moss flowers and Métis themes.
Ryan Coyne - A Bracebridge/Muskoka craftsperson who makes fine cabinets, chairs and tables out of wood. (Image - the largest I could find, sorry - from Coyne's website)
Vicki Sharp - A Muskoka jewelery designer (mainly beadwork) and painter of meadows, birds, lily pads. (Image from Sharp's website.)
Col Mitchell - A Muskoka artist who bridges cute chickadee paintings and renderings of Heath Leder's Joker, often using crumpled paper. (Image from Mitchell's blog)
Krysia Bower - A Muskoka artist who makes flower cards and prints (Image from Bower's website)
John Delang - A Muskoka woodcarver who does realistic models of waterfowl and other fowl. (Image from Delang's website.)
OK, so with all due respect to anyone who makes a living from creative production, it kind of goes without saying that this is a totally embarrassing megafail on the representing-Canada's-best-artistic-face-to-the-world front. We have tons of artistic talent in this country, talent that is recognized worldwide. Yet, Streicher and Bentsen perhaps aside, that talent overwhelmingly absent from this important international presentation.
Did I really expect any different? No. We are in fake lake territory here. And the media are going to be so strung out on politics they'll hardly be hard up for art.
Nonetheless, there are so many ways this could have been a no-brainer—getting the Sobey finalists to show, for instance, or the winners of the most recent GG awards, or RBC awards, or Grange Prize, or Ontario Crafts Council Awards. (I ain't against craft, far from it—I just think any work presented at the pavilion should be at an agreed-upon standard of quality and originality.) Alternatively, why not ask the National Gallery of Canada (an crown corporation, natch, and planning a biennial of recent acquisitions this fall anyway) to pull some works? Or even reproductions of works? How about asking the commercial galleries that used to get DFAIT grants to go to international art fairs to lend something out?
The pavilion was actually a bit on the right track with that Luminato crossover—let's do a little collaborating, folks!—and the DFAIT rep did clarify that it was "the Summits Management Office" (hardly a curatorial brand name) that made the call on everyone but Streicher and Bendtsen.
Still, whoa. I expected to see a strange field of art crop up, but this takes the cake for an international event.
Also, I have to say even the lack of regional representation is likely upsetting to many Canadians. Muskoka/Toronto=Canada? I don't think so.
Rendering of the fake lake from CBC
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Posted by Leah Sandals at 9:29 PM