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Dick Averns
Similar But Different at The New Gallery
April 02, 2013

Oh, the irony! After years of The New Gallery hosting annual collaborative exhibitions between students at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) and the University of Calgary (UofC), the Provincial Government sends letters to Alberta's twenty-six post-secondary education institutions instructing them to work together more closely: all for the sake of efficiency, a business-relevant strategy driven by the imposition of 9.3% cuts to next year's higher-education budget. But while some consider this a political intervention on academics, others know that artists have long been adept at academic interventions in politics.

Jason McMullen, Musical Chimes

TNG's sixth ACAD/UofC collaboration Similar but Different is largely a foray into the politics of public space, looking at ways in which practitioners from disciplines that are different but at times similar (e.g. visual art, architecture and design) approach similar territories in different ways. Curated by ACAD sculpture undergraduate Jayda Karsten, an adept and increasingly prominent practitioner on the local scene, the project features predominantly MArch grad students from the Faculty of Environmental Design at the UofC undertaking guerilla interventions on the streets of downtown Calgary.

Stephen Rowe, YELP Signage

Stephen Rowe's appropriations of YELP signage from the internet are manifested physically, creating a strange dislocation when fabricated large and in public. Smaller and more discrete, Jason McMullen's chimes mounted via custom acrylic brackets to park benches, enable a different poetry. With the gallery ostensibly a repository for trace objects and interpretive video, why aren't the public installations running for the exhibit's duration? As one might expect, some works were removed by authorities or passers-by while others seemed like only temporary installations. This caveat could be said to overly privilege the artists, particularly when making work about engaging passing audiences and improving the public realm, but such is the nature of academic experiments: something that The New Gallery and Karsten might yet be able to teach the Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education.

The New Gallery:
Similar but Different continues until April 13.

Dick Averns is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose exhibitions and performances have been presented internationally. He teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design, and his writing has appeared in Canadian Art, Front, On Site Review, and many catalogues. He is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent.



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