Thursday, May 28, 2009

Q&A: The National Gallery's own Angels & Demons Blockbuster?

Today, the National Post published my Q&A with David Franklin, curator of "From Raphael to Carracci: The Art of Papal Rome", which is the National Gallery of Canada's summer blockbuster. I know it's silly to tie the production of an art historical exhibition to Dan Brown's Angels & Demons... but of course that didn't stop me from trying. An exerpt:

Q The movie Angels & Demons just came out. Are there any connections here for Dan Brown fans?

A I think if you want to understand more of Rome and papacy there's definitely lots to delve into in this exhibition. I'm not sure about one-to-one parallels, though.

Q Still, aren't Brown's books about looking for clues in artworks and architecture?

A Yes, and it's a nice metaphor for what art historians do. We're also looking for clues, and while there may be this veneer of accuracy in what we write, there's a lot of room for interpretation and detective work. It's inevitable that art produced centuries ago is going to keep a lot of secrets or enigmas.

The show opens Friday May 29.

Image of one of Raphael's portraits from Jerry and Martha

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grange Prize Wins, Luminato Losses & Montreal Malheur

A few newsy bits:

Tonight the winner of the $50,000 Grange Prize in Photography was announced tonight at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Mexico City's Marco Antonio Cruz was the winner as decided by popular online vote. Photos by all four finalists will be displayed at the AGO to June 26.

Today, Luminato, Toronto's best-funded arts fest, sent out a release admitting that Reena Katz's scheduled fest event, each hand as they are called, "has been postponed indefinitely and will no longer be part of Luminato 2009." The cause? Multiple project partners pulling out of the project over Katz's views on Palestine. More info from the artist here:

Kudos to the Globe's Sarah Milroy for bringing some info on this year's Montreal Biennial controversy back to us anglos. Still, I was a bit wondering why Milroy didn't mention the alternate biennial "OFF BNL MTL" organized by artists as disappointed in the official version as she.

Image by Marco Antonio Cruz from the Art Gallery of Ontario

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Out Today: Assume Nothing's Small-Town Social Realism

This spring, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria shone a spotlight on social-relational artworks with its show "Assume Nothing". Including well-known international artists like Harrell Fletcher and Haegue Yang as well as locals like Robert Wise and Andrea Walsh, the exhibition, which closed yesterday, seemed pretty interesting. (I especially liked the idea of Wise's sex-worker kiosk, installed on the grounds of the AGGV.) Today, the National Post published a brief Q&A I did with show curator Lisa Baldissera, as well as a bunch of images from the show. Here's an excerpt:

Q This exhibition focuses on "socially engaged art." Do you really think art can change society --and by extension, the world?

A I think the societies that are the most dysfunctional are the most unconscious, the ones where there's no field for debate. So as far as art changing the world, it's about creating a space that says discussion is important, but taking that discussion outside of the high-pressure environments of the boardroom or the city hall chamber, where there's urgency for specific solutions. It's about creating a field of "what if?" discussions where revolutionary ideas can be brought forward.

Image of Robert Wise & PEERS's The Office: A Portable Amenity Kiosk for Female Outdoor Sex Workers from

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Out Today: West Queen West Gallery Hop

Today the National Post published a wall-themed gallery hop of mine for the West Queen West area. It appeared earlier in the week on their Posted Toronto blog. Here's an excerpt:

1186 Queen St. W.
You know how in high-school chemistry you learned that an electron could be considered both a solid particle and a fluid wave? Well, Karen Henderson might be considered Toronto’s art chemist. In her artwork, Henderson has a tendency to position objects as time, and vice versa. In her latest work at Akau, this involves the display of two innocuous-looking still photographs that record over 14 hours of movement and time. Here’s how it happened: On Feb. 3, Henderson set up two cameras into Akau’s space, taking photographs of two display walls every 30 minutes for seven hours. Each time she took a new photo, she moved the camera’s view slightly to the right, generating what she calls a “Slow Pan.” The resulting panoramas look like simple 1/250th-of-a-second-snapshots, but contain much more. Conceptually, it’s a nice experimental project. But for all the time Henderson invested, it feels, in person, like there’s something missing, or at least amiss. Maybe this, too, is more dry science than engaging art? To June 13.

Image of installation at 47 gallery from Posted Toronto

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Canada! Arts! News! Roundup!

A roundup with lots of shout-outs to round off the week --

--On his Untitled blog, he Toronto Star's Murray Whyte has done a good job of following the troubling events surrounding the sudden "disassociation" of Jewish cultural org the Koffler Gallery from artist Reena Katz over her views on Palestine. As he reports, more artists are now choosing to dissociate themselves from the Koffler, and more Jewish cultural orgs are dropping out of Katz's project--which was to launch this week! (Untitled)

--The Georgia Straight reports that BC is the only province to have cut funds to the arts this year. Who sez? The Canadian Conference of the Arts. (The Straight)

--Erstwhile Canuck Paddy Johnson aka Art Fag City gives Toronto gallery sites a huge FAIL. Fun! (via Gabby Moser)

--Canadian architect Arthur Erickson died this week. The Post's Ampersand blog rounds up some of his greatest hits. (The Ampersand)

--With news of increasing museum fees in Toronto going pretty quietly into the Internet ether, I really appreciate Modern Art Notes's Tyler Green and his coverage of American admission fee issues, most recently at the Art Institute of Chicago. Inspiring to us too-adaptable, too-easygoing Canucks. (Modern Art Notes)

--The Globe's Fiona Morrow has a nice profile on how head Kathleen Bartels has changed the Vancouver Art Gallery for the better. (Globe and Mail)

--Two Alberta art writers, Amy Fung and Anthea Black, take a reality-TV style approach to their separate reviews of a Steve McQueen exhibition. Same exhibition visit, same deadline, same word count. Nice idea -- the reviews go up by midnight tonight! (Prairie Artsters &

--The Coast's Meredith Dault provides more insight into Eyelevel Gallery's Internet-free, 1970s-tech-only month. Can you say "rotary dial only"? (The Coast)

--Andrea Carson and I like to disagree about a lot of things over at her blog View on Canadian Art. But her thumbs up to overlooked artist Graham Peacock? Spot on. (VoCA)

Image from

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A World that seems Off: Motorola's Mateo Guez Collabo

A quick note on a current exhibition that baffles me/concerns me somewhat. For the month of May, the window of Camera, the bar and screening space attached to Stephen Bulger Gallery, has been taken over by something called "Off World." When you walk by, you see the large window covered with black vinyl. In a few places (maybe 8 to 10 or so) the black vinyl has been cut away to reveal a cellphone screen unfurling images of kids scavenging and playing in Smoky Mountain, a slum/refuse site in the Philippines.

The project is a collaboration between Motorola (one can see their logo on each small screen) and artist/filmmaker Mateo Guez. There is a special mobile-tech aspect in that the images can be downloaded to one's own phone via Bluetooth (or as I like to describe it, magic). The images can also be downloaded from the "Off World" website, with new sets of images uploaded weekly.

The whole thing makes me a bit uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, I guess, about these kids not being compensated by Motorola for their participation in this whole sponsorship thing. (You think at least they could've given them a phone or something, though I'm sure that would seem similarly in poor taste.)

It also actually makes me uncomfortable that these are images people can take with them on their phone, a discomfort again related, perhaps, to the privilege of having this technology to tote around pictures of people whose yearly income probably doesn't even total the cost of said mobile device.

At the same time, I can reason the other way with myself--like well, these are images of extreme poverty, and they should make you uncomfortable. Or, well, at least more people know now about these kids and their situation--isn't that a good thing? And don't people tote around/possess newspapers and magazines full of horrific images, for which the subjects are not compensated one iota? How is it different or worse toting around the images on a phone?

Still, I feel somehow that this dialogue, internal or otherwise, is not really justified by the means. Ideas? Gripes? Defenses?

Image of Mateo Guez's Super Hero, Smokey Mountain, 2008 from Contact Festival

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paste Ups vs. Public Art @ Torontoist

In Toronto, the railway underpass at Queen and Dufferin streets is a hot graf and paste-up spot. Now, with the city doing a reno, it wants to put in some official public art. The finalist proposals—from Ken Lum, Isabelle Hayeur, Vera Frenkel and Luis Jacob—are pretty cool but one wonders how graffiti folks will respond. Read more at my Torontoist post on the topic. An excerpt:

Vancouver artist Ken Lum, best known for photo-text works on themes of migration, discrimination, and belonging, proposed a series of digital clocks. On one side of the underpass, the clocks, titled Sunrise Today, would report the sunrise time at locations around the world, from Dubai and Delhi to Toronto. Clocks on the other side of the underpass would do the same for sunsets, with the idea of differing geographic awarenesses being a fact of everyday multicultural metropolitan life...

[But a] key issue is whether graf artists will regard new, official public art as an invasion of space. City of Toronto public art officer Clara Hargittay thinks not. "Statistically," she says, "it’s true that if a work of art exists it is seldom tagged. This is also one good reason to put public art in, because artists respect other artists' work."

Image of the Dufferin railway underpass from Torontoist

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Back to the La Bohème Future

So this weekend I did something kinda fancy. I went to the opera, namely "La Bohème" performed by the Canadian Opera Company.

Now I've heard that admitting to like this crowd-pleasing opera is, for highbrows, kinda shameful. But I really liked it—in addition to being a major visual spectacle in this production, there was plenty of material therein for one to consider the portrayal of artists in popular culture.

For one, the portrayal of artists—like painters, poets and even lady-textile artists—in La Bohème, written in the 1890s, pretty closely mirrors the way that artists are often portrayed today in film and television. That is to say, poor, passionate and living lives of sometime scandal. (Can it really be all that long aways from Rodolfo's Bohemian garrett to Rufus's Brooklyn loft on Gossip Girl? OK, so he's not burning his guitars for heat, but the idea is there.)

I know "Rent" basically updated this opera to the 1990s, but it would be fun to see it adapted today onstage, everyone running around with laptops and cellphones. Of course, I'm also well aware of the fact that according to recent studies, many Canadian artists are dirt poor. That came to mind too, as well as the fact that poverty in one's present day is never perceived as quite as romantic as poverty of the past eras.

Also, I really enjoyed thinking during the performance about the way "low" arts become "high" over time. Oh, it's an old old critical chestnut, that one, but it's one that's still incredibly powerful in terms of class and cash. Back in the 1890s and prior, the opera was a form of popular entertainment. Now it's mega-highfalutin and costs megabucks. As the exhibition Surreal Things at the AGO details, even to work for the ballet was considered artistically selling out, perhaps just as much as creating custom graphics for Microsoft or Wal Mart might be today. But now the ballet signifies discernment and elevated aesthetic taste.

I do wonder, for instance, if a century from now the upper classes will pay big money to see reruns of Lost and yes, Gossip Girl, or perhaps to see related plays or exhibitions. Or if owning an early millennium No Frills bag might be considered in prestigious.

If you've got any aesthetic-sociological predictions to call dibs on, I look forward to hearing 'em.

Image of players from the COC's La Boheme from its website

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Makes a Masterpiece? Q&A on Vermeer exb in Nat Post

Also out today -- a Q&A related to the Vancouver Art Gallery's new blockbuster, "Vermeer, Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum." The interview was with the gallery's senior curator Ian Thom and it's in today's National Post, with some nice pics of the work. An excerpt:

Q This show is framed as an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces. What makes something a masterpiece?

A I guess the painting would be universally recognized as an extremely fine example of its type. It may have been recognized as accomplished in its own day, but also now. Also, the word "masterpieces" is in the title of the show because the Rijksmuseum wanted us to include it.

Who knew the Rijks could do something like that? You learn something new every day. If you're interested, there's a good image portfolio from the show at the Vancouver Sun's site.

Image of Aelbert Cuyp, Portrait of a Young Man, c 1651, Copyright Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam from the Vancouver Sun

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Out today: Contact Reviews

Contact soldiers on and today three of my micro-reviews of its shows appear in today's NOW. An excerpt:

A few standout works make [Still Motions] a must-see.

The first is Quebec artist Gwenaël Bélanger’s print of a mirror shattering as it hits a concrete floor. The second is his remixed video of a similar, spectacular scene in his studio. It’s got a climax worth waiting for.

And the third is Vienna artist Jutta Strohmaier’s video of what seems to be natural light changing in an empty room over the course of a day. It’s an exercise many artists have undertaken, but Strohmaier makes it quite beautiful – a meditation to balance Bélanger’s mayhem.

Image of Gwenaël Bélanger’s Le Grand Fratras from his website

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Cannibalistic Homicidal Maniac Kid Could Paint That!

How can I pass this one up? Anthony Hopkins, better known to scared-shitless early 90s teens as Hannibal Lecter, is soon opening a show of his paintings in suburban Toronto at Harbour Gallery. Based on a persual of Hopkins's harp-music-filled art website I'd say there's no rush to get to the opening. But whatevs. As long as he proves himself to be more of a class act than that other recent "I ain't no actor! I'm an artiste!" visitor to town, Billy Bob Thornton, I'll let it be.

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Open Letter on Photo Museum Debacle: Artists Refuse Consultation

Just received this in the ol' inbox - an open letter to the National Gallery of Canada on the closure of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. Note the parts in bold (emphasis mine)

Open letter to Mr. Michael Audain, Chairperson, Board of Trustees,
National Gallery of Canada, and Members of the Board.

We the undersigned, including both photographic artists chosen to
participate in the National Gallery consultation on the future of the
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (CMCP), and other
distinguished practitioners not chosen, have been struggling with the
implications of the consultation as designed by the National Gallery
of Canada (NGC). We have decided not to participate in the
consultation, unless it can be reformulated as open, public, and

On 8 April, 2009, it was announced that the NGC Board of Trustees had instructed the personnel of the NGC to conduct a national consultation with the photographic community. It was anticipated that this
consultation would be open and public. Many interested members of the community, including artists, curators, researchers, educators, critics, and members of the public, contacted the NGC to ensure that
they would be informed when and where the consultations would be taking place. Instead, the NGC decided to conduct the consultation on an individual basis, by invitation and by telephone, and to present its findings to the Board without attribution. The list of invited artists is confidential.

We understand that the invitation list includes artists who have exhibited their work at the CMCP or the NGC during the last five years, as well as those with scheduled exhibitions forthcoming. We note that the CMCP has been closed for renovations due to a leak in the roof for nearly three years, during which time all CMCP exhibitions were temporarily housed at the NGC. We note too that budgetary restraints and administrative changes had severely restricted the CMCP's autonomy for several years before the temporary closure of the building at 1 Rideau Canal. It is impossible to evaluate the performance and potential of the CMCP from this period of physical upheaval and institutional hardship.

We believe that a public consultation has to involve more than the artist/photographers whose work has been exhibited at the gallery over the past five years. A national consultation of the photographic
community also has to include other professionals in the field: curators, collectors, dealers, researchers, educators, critics, and the large public that has an interest in the CMCP.

We are asking the Board of Trustees to ensure that an open and public process of national consultation is conducted before any further decisions are made about the future of the CMCP.

We would be happy to participate openly in a public consultation.


Raymonde April, Benoit Aquin, Richard Baillargeon, Marian Penner
Bancroft, Claude-Philippe Benoit, Phil Bergerson, Karl Beveridge, AA
Bronson, Michel Campeau, Bertrand Carriére, Serge Clément, Carol
Condé, Linda Covit, Marlene Creates, Donigan Cumming, Stan Denniston,
Jennifer Dickson, Evergon, William Eakin, Janieta Eyre, Vera Frenkel,
Richard Fung, Wyn Geleynse, Lorraine Gilbert, Don Gill, Rafael
Goldchain, Adrian Gollner, Pascal Grandmaison, Sunil Gupta, Toni
Hafkenscheid, Ted Hiebert, David Hlynsky, Richard Holden, Thaddeus
Holownia, Holly King, Thomas Kneubuhler, Susan McEachern, Robert
Minden, Shelley Niro, Sylvie Readman, Henri Robideau, Jayce Salloum,
Sandra Semchuk, Cheryl Sourkes, George Steeves, Gabor Szilasi, Jeff
Thomas, Diana Thorneycroft, Eve K. Tremblay, Richard-Max Tremblay,
Justin Wonnacott, Andrew Wright, Jin-me Yoon

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

From Dreamscapes to Dining Rooms - Surreal Things Q&A

Earlier this year, the Victoria and Albert Museum's "Surreal Things" exhibition -- on surrealism in design -- was slated to appear at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. But according to V&A curator Ghislaine Wood, the recession has since ruled out those venues. That makes the Art Gallery of Ontario the sole North American venue for the exhibition, which opened in Toronto this weekend.

Recently, I sat down with Wood at the AGO to chat about the show. Today the National Post published our condensed interview. Here's an excerpt.

Q Dali was really into creating fantasy worlds. What do you think he and his colleagues would have made of the Internet, a place where millions of people construct elaborate fantasies on sites like Second Life?

A I think Dali would have jumped to take over the Internet and make it Dali-Land. ... I also think that audience participation in the Internet would have intrigued Dali, because the Surrealists introduced those ideas. Dali once made a jacket with glasses all over it. And what you were supposed to do was take the glasses off the jacket, fill them with creme de menthe from a bottle nearby and get drunk in front of an object, therefore having a relationship with the object that's entirely subjective and personal. Participation in art [today] is a major idea, and that was Dali in 1956.

Image of Dali's Ruby Lips from the AGO

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Update: Toronto Artist's Contract Ended due to View on Israel

This weekend, there's been much to-do over a Toronto gallery's surprising decision to renege on an artist's contract due to the artist's views on Israel. The gallery, the Koffler, is part of a Jewish cultural centre and the artist, Reena Katz, who is Jewish, was part of the Koffler's scheduled programming for May and June. Katz has been associated with Israel Apartheid Week, a group which questions Israel's actions in Palestine.

On Friday, the Koffler issued a statement dissociating themselves from Katz. Facebook uproar and articles in the local media (here and here) have since followed.

In my opinion, this is quite a bad move for the gallery. The Koffler has in recent years tried to open and hip-ify their image by doing more downtown programming (their actual gallery is located in the suburbs). Katz was to be part of that initiative. This decision goes right against that kind of open and flexible image.

Further, it's almost certain that artists who've exhibited at the gallery in the past--like BGL and Blue Republic--are not Zionist in identification.

So what's the problem here? It's that the artist is open about their non-Zionist views? That the information regarding same is available on her Facebook page?

Also, if the political views of artists was so important to the Koffler in the first place, they should have scoped all this out beforehand--before months of press material and hype have gone out on their part.

Photo of Reena Katz from the Star

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Photo Gallery Hop & Libby Hague Review

With National Gallery of Canada director Marc Mayer arguing that there was no need for Canada to have a stand-alone photography museum, and the Contact Photography Festival on in full force, there's lots of prompts to think about photo as art form. My gallery column published in today's National Post looks at three exhibits that use photo in different ways.Here's an excerpt:

For several years, Toronto photographer Scott Johnston has directed his camera towards different parts of Hogtown. The results, a selection of which show at Arta to May 14, aren’t always high art, but they are often compelling. The draw of Johnston’s images comes from the fact that they lift a mirror to familiar scenes and settings, allowing us the time and space to consider what usually just flies past car windows or is glimpsed out of the corner of an eye during errands. Take, for example, Johnston’s standout wide-angle photograph spanning Union Station’s railway tracks, the Air Canada Centre and a condo contruction site. It’s a swath often divided into discrete categories by maps and minds, but here possesses the feel of a geological cross-section — a system, however erratic, in process.

Also, an exhibition by Libby Hague closes tomorrow at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Yesterday, Torontoist published my review.

Image of Shai Kremer's work from the National Post

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Hot Topic: Identity Politics (Yes, Still)

For the last week or so I've been pondering approaches to identity in art. These thoughts were prompted by a couple of recent reviews in Toronto media that expressed exasperation with identity politics in certain exhibitions. The reviews I'm thinking of are Sarah Milroy's review of Remix in the Globe and David Balzer's review of South-South in Eye Weekly.

As Milroy put it:
Is it still possible these days to make a viable, themed exhibition about contemporary aboriginal art that doesn't feel stillborn? And what happens when works of art are gathered around ideas such as cultural hybridity and racial identity? In an era in which Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk is winning prizes at Cannes and Northwest Coast artist Brian Jungen is showing at the Witte de With in Rotterdam and the Tate Modern in London, aren't these kinds of initiatives anachronistic and weirdly protectionist?
The current exhibition Remix: New Modernities in a Post-Indian World (at the Art Gallery of Ontario until Aug. 23) makes you think so.

And for his part, Balzer wrote:
Everywhere you look in contemporary art, binaries are being defined and then deconstructed. This is unsurprising given the grasp post-structuralism has had on most artists’ educations (which are, in turn, almost uniformly post-secondary and/or graduate), though it’s hard to imagine who, among their viewers, still needs the lesson. It must appeal equally to an artist’s sense of conviction and vanity: that is, to base an entire career on exploding the neat-yet-evil pairs of boxes our culture supposedly puts us in (male/female, west/east, light/dark, straight/gay and so on) — and, specifically, to be the one to proclaim that no person, especially an interesting and intelligent one, fits into them.

Where would identity-politics art be without this approach? Justina M. Barnicke Gallery’s new show, “South-South: Interruptions and Encounters,” suggests it would cease to exist — either that, or it would become a lot better, as other recent shows at this very gallery (notably 2007’s “Rightfully Yours”) have proven.

I respect both of these colleagues, and appreciate them putting forth honest reactions to the shows, thereby raising tough issues. But I'm still niggled, a bit, by what makes these issues tough.

To me, as long as people are treated differently--be it economically, socially, physically or otherwise--on the basis of their outward identity, we will have, quite reasonably, identity politics at work both in art and in life. To me, it's a totally valid field to work in. Necessary, even.

At the same time, I understand the need for critics to point out deficiencies in artistic or curatorial merit. After all, it's our job. I myself have done this in reviews, namely for Black Creek Projects and Queer Here Queer Now.

However, I did see both these shows--Remix and South-South--and I didn't have nearly the same degree of negative reaction that Milroy and Balzer did. I agree not all the work at the AGO is what we might call "museum-quality"--that is to say, adequately thought through or at a strong skill level. And at South-South there is some work that is also not as strong, or that seems more self-involved to the detriment, rather than the benefit, of the art. But both exhibitions did introduce me to a few artists new to me, who I doubt had shown works in Toronto before, and whose works I really enjoyed. That's a function of these types of themed exhibitions that I think remains important--would artists who are women or artists who are queer be anywhere near as accepted in the art mainstream without similar group shows created on those themes the past?

I'm open to any comments. Basically I'm uncertain on how to approach all this and am wondering what others have to say.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Recommended: Shai Kremer, Maura Doyle, Larissa Fassler

A few shows I've seen of late and recommend taking in:

Shai Kremer at the newish Julie M Gallery is a great show. Kremer's an Israeli-born, New York-based artist who here presents very strong photographs of the Golan Heights area. The images really effectively show the legacy of conflict and war woven into the landscape, a pretty horrible mix of beauty and tragedy. Struck me at first as Burtynskyish, but for human conflicts rather than environmental ones.

Maura Doyle at Paul Petro is a gas. (I feel like I'm 80 using that description, but whatever.) Doyle's show "New Age Beaver" is themed on--you got it--beavers. Not only did the beaver happy face drawing on the wall crack me up, but so did Doyle's replicas of beaver-created objects previously described in books and field guides. Bizarre and fun.

Larissa Fassler at Interaccess is also worth a look. Born in Vancouver, Fassler trained at Concordia and lives in Berlin. Fassler's got a sculpture showing alongside a video work by Richard Schutz, but it's really Fassler's work that's the draw. It's a miniature replica of all the tunnels and hallways in a U-Bahn subway station. It looks kind of like a weird spaceship and I really liked the way it brought the underground up, revealing the invisible architectures of cities.

Finally, Sylvie Boisseau & Frank Westermeyer's Chinese is a Plus at V-Tape provides an interesting look at migration and culture. Boisseau and Westermeyer are from France and Germany, respectively. The video itself is a bit dry and subtle, consisting simply of German students of Chinese language in conversation. One group of students is of Chinese descent, and talks a lot about cultural preservation and pride, while the other group, of German descent, talks more haltingly about an interest in Chinese food and cities. (Commerce more clearly drives the interests of this latter group, and culture the former.) There's something in all this that's a great portrait of cultural gaps, changes and stillnesses in a super-migratory world.

Image of one of Maura Doyle's beaver-sculpture replicas from Paul Petro

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Currently Enjoying: Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z.

As a follow-up to my previous post on fiction that tells the truth about art, I'd like to share the book I'm currently enjoying: Apprentice to the Flower Poet Z by Debra Weinstein. Reviewers called this 2005 tome Devil Wears Prada for the poetry set, and they were spot on. Its opening lines: "This is the story of how I came to momentary prominence in the world of poetry, and, through a series of misunderstandings, destroyed my good name and became a nobody. It was fall, my junior year." Nice

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From the Department of Corrections

Sometimes the Stones miss you, sometimes you miss the Stones. Such was the case this weekend, when an editorial process introduced an unfortunate error into the review of Communism of Forms that I wrote for the Globe. The published review implied that the White Album was created by the Rolling Stones. Not! I was just as confused as anyone to see this info. Apologies to the artist, Brady Cranfield, whose work The White Album and Sticky Fingers shows him listening to each of the titular albums--the former by the Beatles and the latter by the Rolling Stones. Mick.. Paul... I hope there's no hard feelings.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Music Vid Show Review Out Today

You don't have to be Moses Znaimer to know the music video industry is in serious flux. At his former pop empire MuchMusic, RapCity has been usurped by Lil Wayne downloads, and Electric Circus has given way to Gossip Girl. Now, an international group of curators has produced an exhibition on the music video as changing art form. The show, The Communism of Forms, premiered in Sao Paolo a couple of years ago and is now taking place at two Toronto venues: academic site the Art Gallery of York University and corporate-sponsored-marketing zone Red Bull 381 Projects. My brief review of the exhibit appears in today's Globe. If it had been longer, I would have made sure to mention Peaches' "My Dumps" (embedded above) a hilarious DIY parody of both Fergie and Alanis Morrisette's My Humps. Beware--it's dangerous combo of catchy and gross.

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