If you've ever dreamed of winning the Sobey Art Award, Turner Prize, or for that matter any accolade, then you know that dreams can be both catalysts for optimism and an inducer of reverie. In reality, of course, fulfilling a dream or recalling sleepy-time sequences is not so easy. So for this Calgary report, I am pleased to present a view that (to riff off Bruce Nauman) reveals mystic, and not so mystic, truths.
Turner Prize, Meeshil
At the forefront is an aptly named collective, Turner Prize*, exhibiting Other People's Dreams at The New Gallery. Simple in concept, challenging to produce but expertly executed, this trio of artists gather recollections of dreams from volunteers, then re-stage them via performative mise en scènes. The net result is engrossing in content yet lean in presentation with each dream sequence distilled to one high gloss, full colour, photographic still. The show comprises over two-dozen works, featuring everything from the playful to bizarre, lascivious to what some might call lewd, erotic to enigmatic, but also the serene and sublime. Think jumping off the school roof, being chased down the street as child in only your underwear, living in some primitive rural camp, being in an orgy, or floating through space...it's all out there. Catharsis and phantasmagoria abound.
Turner Prize, Przemek1
The collective's artists - Jason Cawood, Blair Fornwald, and John G. Hampton - play all of the central character roles, both male and female, and acknowledge in their texts that mediation, slippage of reality, and notions of ruptured translation are all part and parcel of re-interpreting the mind's eye of others' voices. Notably, according to gallery director Tim Westbury, the tableaus are not processed via Photoshop. For anyone who has wondered what dreams might look like in the cool light of day, this is a show not to be missed.
Edward Burtynsky, Homesteads #39, Alberta Foothills, Hwy 3, Fort Macleod, Alberta, 2003
On a different photographic front, another visit to the Glenbow Museum is in order for Edward Burtynsky's large solo show Encounters. One of Canada's leading artists, Burtynsky is likely best known for his large format depictions of industrial sites implicating human consumption. For this show, there's a greater mix of subjects, with a number of Canadian landscapes. This extended range is in part attributable to there being many works from the museum's collection, affording a look at lesser-seen western accounts including the Rocky Mountain foothills, and west coast river valleys replete with winding railroads. Some are almost diorama-like, and provide a serene bookend to the more ubiquitous and disturbing global scenes of ship breakers, recycling facilities, and the oil sands.
Iain Baxter&, Rocky Mountatins Landscape, 2012, 60" television and acrylic paint
In conjunction with Burtynsky, the Glenbow is presenting In40rmat10n by Iain Baxter&. Since garnering international prominence in the sixties and seventies, when he and his former wife Ingrid created the famed N.E.Thing Co, Baxter& has maintained a prolific career. This solo endeavour is not on the scale of his international touring retrospective, but still includes the characteristic readymades and conceptual traits that place this senior artist in the role of father figure to Canadian Conceptual Art. Two works stand out for me. One is a bucolic landscape painting atop a large TV screen deploying a picture of snowy static to bring life to the sky and lake; the other is a backlit certificate authenticating Baxter&'s trademarking of his signature ampersand: &. Both works suggest relationships between the tenets of nature and nurture, likely more complex than first apparent.
Central to Baxter& adopting his name change is the notion that none of us exist in a state of unadulterated nature and can dream of accomplishing anything without the nurture of others. The ampersand gives an inextricable nod to all the other folks - the (h)ands with a silent h - that have enabled Baxter& to accomplish his life's work. Curiously, after looking up Baxter&'s trademark information on the website of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO Reg. # TMA803289), the services and wares he claims make plenty of generic mention to art, but none to the ampersand. Maybe the CIPO needs a little more nurturing.
Root Cellar Gallery, Fuck Yeah I'm A Feminist, (installation view), 2012 (photo: Melinda Topilko)
Something that has been well nurtured recently is the relationship between visual art and the indie festival Sled Island. Throughout the winter a weekly pop-up gallery has enabled the dreams of ACAD art students to have their work exhibited via an arrangement to utilize unused basement space at the Sled Island offices. With only a couple of weeks left for this semester, there's not many shows remaining, but from seeing the recent Fuck Yeah, I'm a Feminist show, curated by Melinda Topilko, there's no shortage of energy or talent. Artists of note for the 2012 roster include Jeremy Pavka, Natasha Jensen, Ashley Ohman and Jesse Stilwell. The hope is that this summer's festival - with musical acts including Feist and Timber Timbre - will live up to its claim that "Sled Island is a place where dreams come true" by repeating last year's program of summer visual art shows.
Esker Foundation, hard hat opening (photo: Noel Begin)
Lastly, although lucid dreaming maybe too rare a trait, here is some awareness worth sharing for collective lucidity. For those awaiting a major modern and contemporary exhibition space in Calgary, June 15 has now been announced for the opening of The Esker Foundation. This private entity located in Inglewood will have a huge gallery and mount a range of projects, commencing with The New Alberta Contemporaries, a show of emerging artists curated by Caterina Pizanias. A different kind of lucidity has washed through the Art Gallery of Calgary with the recent departure of President Valerie Cooper, but perhaps most dreams are being made via the influx of arts cash I reported in November via Calgary 2012: Cultural Capital of Canada. In the vein of the N.E.Thing Co's 1971 Art is All Over leitmotif, the Calgary launch event on May 11 includes not just music, dance, Bollywood, Luchadors and performance art, but free tickets for a night out at where else but the Stampede ground.
Dick Averns is an interdisciplinary artist and writer whose exhibitions and performances have been presented internationally. Recent essays appear in Diabolique (catalogue), Crossing Cultures: Conflict, Migration, Convergence (scholarly anthology) and periodicals including Canadian Art, Front, and On Site Review. He is currently working on a public museum installation featuring a major architectural artefact recovered from the collapsed World Trade Centre. Dick teaches at the Alberta College of Art + Design. He is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent.
The New Gallery: http://www.thenewgallery.org/
Turner Prize* continues until April 28.
Glenbow Museum: http://www.glenbow.org/exhibitions/current/index.cfm
Iain Baxter& continues until May 6.
Edward Burtynsky continues until May 6.
The Root Cellar Gallery: http://therootcellargallery.com/
See website for current exhibitions
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Posted by cxrskd, on 2013-11-21 05:06:42jpxojzsy