Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, February 22, 2017


“Vancouver Special” and the Issue with Local Surveys.  In December, the Vancouver Art Gallery launched “Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures,” the first iteration of a triennial showcase of contemporary Vancouver art. The project aims to map art in the city via works produced during the last five years, an epoch the curators Daina Augaitis and Jesse McKee refer to as “post-Olympic.” While the term “post-Olympic” asserts relevancy to the current moment, this exhibition poses several problems that in fact come from larger histories and narratives. Firstly, the exhibition uses opaque and loaded terminology. Canadian Art, February 16, 2017

Vancouver at the Movies.  With ties through its members to Vancouver, the Studio for Propositional Cinema is an anonymous Düsseldorf-based collective. A sort of neo-conceptualist project, the studio attempts to deconstruct what cinema is, understanding it to be a production model, a way of making art, and refusing to differentiate between aesthetic objects, publications, performances, actions and curating. For the studio, it’s all “cinema”—even an exhibition of Nokia photographs…Vancouver artists often address their proximity to the city’s film industry (both its workers and its production models), but many also explore, resist and appropriate cinema as a subject and a method. Unlike artists living in larger film centres such as Los Angeles, artists in Vancouver are both far enough away and close enough to the film industry to see what aesthetic possibilities it contains for artmaking. Canadian Art, February 17, 2017

Artist space Beaumont Studios looking for new home after 80% property tax increase.  An artists’ space in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood is looking for a new home after property taxes rose from $50,000 to $90,000 — an 80 per cent increase — over two years. “We’re not trying to be sensationalist but it’s legitimately dire,” said Sean Sherwood, strategic director for the Beaumont Studios, located at 5th Avenue and Alberta Street.  MetroNews, February 21, 2017


Artist’s first exhibit in Okanagan. Montreal artist Alexis Bellavance blends silence, noise and the vagaries of time in his latest exhibition The Scale of Clusters v3 at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art from Mar. 10 to Apr. 22. This is Bellavance’s first exhibition in the Okanagan, having previously shown The Scale of Clusters in Chicoutimi and Montreal, QC.    Kelowna Capital News, February 21, 2017


Art Gallery Aims to Amplify Inuit Voices.  Canada’s Winnipeg Art Gallery is already home to the world’s biggest collection of Inuit art. This spring, work gets started on providing this collection with a fitting home at the new Inuit Art Centre.  (Arctic) News Deeply, February 22, 2017


Something lost, something gained at the Power Plant.  It’s a strange time for an indigenous Canadian artist to be living beyond the country’s borders, what with a rising tide of First Nations cultural expression assuming its rightful place closer to the centre of both public consciousness and institutional programming — particularly as Canada 150 approaches, casting it as a very different kind of birthday, indeed. For Maria Hupfield, an Anishinaabe artist lately of Brooklyn but rooted in her home turf of the Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound, a little distance was the goal, though not as she imagined.  Toronto Star, February 20, 2017


Russell Smith: First Nation artist Alex Janvier evokes symbolism through swirls.  There are a few more weeks left in the monumental retrospective of Alberta artist Alex Janvier at the National Gallery in Ottawa, and I shouldn’t be surprised that it has not received more national attention. The fact that this creator of gorgeous and sensual abstracts is not well-known outside western or aboriginal circles of expertise – despite his having won the Governor-General’s Award and the Order of Canada – speaks to fault lines in the country (or, as one might describe it, Toronto myopia).  Globe & Mail, February 21, 2017


5 Ways to Succeed as an Art Dealer in a Smaller City.  It’s difficult to operate a commercial gallery anywhere in Canada, and many challenges are larger in smaller markets—here’s what some gallerists are doing. Canadian Art, February 21, 2017

New York

New York Museums Signal Their Resistance to Trump. The day after Donald Trump was elected President, the Boston-based artist Annette Lemieux called the Whitney Museum and asked it to alter her installation “Left Right Left Right,” then on view in the show “Human Interest.”  She made the piece in 1995, mounting black-and-white photographs of raised fists onto wooden handles like protest signs, and leaning them in a long row on the wall.   She asked the museum to turn the signs upside down. In less than a week—a nanosecond in the timeline of museum bureaucracy—the Whitney had made the change.  The Whitney may have been the first New York museum to signal its resistance to the new Administration, but waves of actions have followed.  New Yorker, February 17, 2017


The biggest challenges facing London’s new museum directors.  As Tristram Hunt starts his new job at the V&A and Maria Balshaw joins the Tate in June, we look at some of the hurdles they will need to overcome. The Art Newspaper, February 21, 2017

The Carbon Footprint of Art.  In late 2015, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing unveiled Ice Watch. The installation consisted of 80 tons of ice harvested from a fjord in Greenland, and was made possible through a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Julie’s Bicycle, an award-winning UK-based non-profit dedicated to researching and promoting sustainable practices in the arts. When Julie’s Bicycle released an executive report on Ice Watch that criticized its significant carbon footprint, the art world balked: well-meaning art can indeed be wasteful.  Canadian Art reached out to Alison Tickell, CEO of Julie’s Bicycle in London, to discuss Ice Watch, climate change, art and ethics, and more.  Canadian Art, February 20, 2017


Details Released for Geoffrey Farmer’s Venice Biennale Project.  Allen Ginsberg. A train accident. Intergenerational trauma. Aspects of all of these elements will converge in Geoffrey Farmer’s upcoming project at the Venice Biennale’s Canada Pavilion, according to details recently released to the media… “In his Venice project, Geoffrey once again finds a world enclosed inside an image and an image giving rise to a world,” explained Art Gallery of Ontario curator Kitty Scott, who is curating Farmer’s Venice project. “Personal memory and familial history flow into a broader stream of reflections on inheritance, trauma, and desire. The pavilion itself, colliding with the artwork, is transformed, opening to the outside as its architecture is reimagined in the guise of a fountain.” Canadian Art, February 22, 2017

Sydney, Australia

The street artist who paints wheat silos.  The paint is barely dry on the portrait of the schoolgirl gazing down from the top of the 30m (100ft) structure and already it is the talk of the town.  The artist is Guido van Helten who has made a name for himself making large-scale public artworks in cities across Europe and the US.  BBC, February 21, 2017


Artist v. Curator: Who Should Control a Living Artist’s Legacy? There’s a throw-down going on in the art world.  Anselm Kiefer refused to attend the current show of his work  that recently opened in Beijing.  Of the 87 works included in the exhibition, 80 are privately owned by a Chinese collector who lives in Germany, Maria Chen Tu.  The art world is atwitter over whether artists and their commercial galleries should have any input, should be asked for consent, for a didactic exhibition of the artist’s work, featuring art that they long ago sold, and lost any legal control over. Should a living artist have control over how his or her work is exhibited?  Should their galleries, which function largely as agent/managers? Or once the art is made and sold, is it out of the hands (and beyond the opinion) of the artist and the seller?  The Observer, February 21, 2017

Nimrud, Iraq

British Museum-trained Iraqi archaeologist assesses Isil destruction of Nimrud. An Iraqi archaeologist who was recently given emergency training by the British Museum is leading a rescue operation in Nimrud, the Assyrian site which was almost totally destroyed by Isil extremists. The archaeologist has been appointed by Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to investigate the damage and stablise what can be saved.  The Art Newspaper, February 20, 2017



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