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Quest Art presents:

Michael Farnan: The New Canadian Naturalist


June 13th – August 31st, 2014

Opening Reception: Friday, June 13th, 7:00 – 9:00 pm


Quest Art is excited to exhibit Michael Farnan: The New Canadian Naturalist

A multi-media artist living in Victoria Harbour, Ontario, Michael Farnan combines video, sculpture, painting, photography, installation, and performance at different moments within his practice. Currently pursuing a PhD in Art and Visual Culture at Western University in London, Ontario, this exhibition presents an engaging survey of the processes he utilizes to explore “dominant Canadian narratives that link relationships to nature and wilderness with ideas of national identity”.

The work in this show focuses mainly on understanding how Canadian institutions such as National Parks and museums representing dominant and ‘official’ histories reflect the legacies of Canada’s pioneering settler past and promote an ideology that says people can rediscover their authentic selves in rural and wilderness spaces. Iconic and nostalgic imagery such as “Cowboys, forestry labour, the beaver, historic photos, educational tools, toys, media stereotypes, and nationalized ‘rites of passage’ such as camping, canoeing, and the idea of connecting to nature through the act of ‘becoming animal’ are all featured.” Michael Farnan

Farnan’s visceral mark making and dramatic compositions work to deconstruct our romantic notions of Canadiana and draw attention to our man vs. nature or “survival of the fittest” mentality, persistently perpetuated through reality television and corporate driven governments. Although playful in form and script, Michael’s layered compositions, noticeably absent of the female form, juxtapose recognizable iconic images of our ‘authentic’ identity against scenes of brawls and beatings, revealing the violence, racism, sexism, elitism, exclusion, even extermination of others, upon which our great nation was born and at times subversively moves forward today.

Wrestling forms within several of his pieces speak to both the external and internal “battle of wills” that have potential for turning physical. His cast plastic wrestling “boy scout” figures at first seem to portray an altercation between man and animal, but the animal head quickly reads as a mask once the second human body is identified beneath it. “Human” is clearly at battle with him /oneself, whether affiliated with industry or nature.

Ghost images of the Group of Seven surrounding an animal carcass, enjoy the gaze of their audience as they exploit nature for personal fame and fortune. Should we denote from this composition that Canada’s world image as a land of beauty and “peacekeepers” is long gone and only paint deep? When speaking with Michael about the work he reminded me that we are a country that “evolved” out of European industry and belief systems, despite the native culture that preceded it, which still suffers from the fallacy of progress, trade and value imposed on them years ago.

In summary, Michael Farnan’s feverish questioning of what it is to be an “authentic” Canadian male artist, has led to rigorous visual narratives that seem to arrive at new truths and fallacies with each new investigation. I leave you with one powerful observation he has made amidst the continuum of what is bound to be a lengthy artistic journey.
“It is only through an understanding of the differing viewpoints, histories, and lived experiences that continue to define Canada today that we will be able to develop compassionate and inclusive approaches to articulations of land, economy, and social life.” Michael Farnan

To meet the artist in person, join us at the opening on Friday, June 13th from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Curator and artist remarks will be given at 7:30.

Learn more about the artist during the week of July 28th – August 1, 10:00 – 4:00 pm, for an intensive Video making course. This introductory workshop will explore the basics of digital video cameras, editing software, and how to create moving narratives on a shoestring budget. Sharing his experience making the films on exhibit within his show “The New Canadian Naturalist”, Michael will also expose artists to other art videos and the strategies used to create different effects within the works. Students should wear comfortable shoes and provide their own video making devices, laptops, and compatible editing software. Please also come prepared with extra storage devices and the necessary charging equipment. Participants will have access to a variety of historical sites in the area for rich filming opportunities. Early Bird (Till May 31st) $250.00, Members ($275.00), Non-Members ($315.00)

For more information about the artist or the exhibition, contact:

Jill Price
Curator / Education Officer
Quest Art School + Gallery
705-526-2787, jill@questart.ca
333 King Street, Midland, Ontario


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