Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, June 6, 2018


Labours of Pain and Love.  The centrepiece of Cindy Baker’s solo exhibition “Crash Pad” is a durational performance in which the artist—alone or accompanied by another performer—rests on a sculptural object resembling a blister-packed pill on the floor of the gallery space. With its indented metal frame and mattress-sized cushion, this pill-pack bed evokes the inherent tension between the much-needed respite and debilitating symptoms that medication provides for the chronic health problems that Baker and many others endure. Canadian Art, June 4, 2018


Q & A: Tate Modern director marvels at Saskatchewan’s ‘all-encompassing sky’ ahead of Remai Modern appearance.  The director of the Tate Modern art gallery in London, England, Frances Morris, is scheduled to speak to a sold out crowd in Saskatoon Tuesday evening.  She’ll give the inaugural Mendel International Lecture at the Remai Modern Art Gallery. She spoke with Leisha Grebinski, host of CBC’s Saskatoon Morning, Tuesday.  CBC News, June 5, 2018


Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan Win $30K Award of Distinction.  They’ve performed as rangers for the “Lesbian National Parks and Services,” as a Medusa mashed up with Margaret Thatcher, and—perhaps most famously—as a talking, singing, human-sized vulva.  Now, after some 30 years of making groundbreaking (as well as often hilarious, poignant and pointed) art together, Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan are being recognized with a $30,000 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction. Organized by the Manitoba Arts Council, it’s an award for the highest level of excellence and long-term achievements of an artist in the province.Canadian Art, June 5, 2018.  See also: Provocative performance artists ‘shocked into silence, which is unusual for us,’ by $30K art prizeCBC News, June 4, 2018


Iris van Herpen and Philip Beesley: a fashion and architecture duo cut from uncommon cloth.  In 2014, Philip Beesley and Iris van Herpen had an unconventional date: deep below the Earth’s surface at the CERN particle collider, they watched as electrons travelled the 27-kilometre loop lined with heavy magnets to smash head on to spectacular, if brief, effect.  The collisions, millions at once, produced a glowing halo effect, elementary particles expending their kinetic energy in electric bursts.  While it may seem an odd rendezvous for a collaborative duo of fashion designer and architect, neither Beesley nor van Herpen are cut from any kind of common cloth. Standing at the Royal Ontario Museum last week under a feathery canopy of synthetic fronds — Beesley’s Aegis, a techno-organic cybernetic organism of sorts that responds to its environment with gestures, sounds and a process that mimics breathing — the pair seemed right at home. Toronto Star, June 5, 2018

AGO numbers show more people saw Infinity Mirrors in Toronto than anywhere else.  69,794 Torontonians hit up Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario making Toronto the exhibit’s most popular stop in the six-city tour so far.  The AGO has released a time-lapse of The Obliteration Room, an interactive portion of the exhibit where guests were given coloured dot stickers to place anywhere in a stark white room. The time lapse shows the room progressing to it’s final state: almost completely obliterated by colour.   Toronto Star, June 5, 2018


Body Movies.   If dance-on-film is a recent fixation of contemporary art, the connection is hardly new. Indeed, dancers appeared in some of the earliest films. Performer Annabelle Whitford was in an 1895 Edison Co. kinetoscope, facing the camera and waving a billowy dress back and forth in a “serpentine dance.”, which hosts a version of this film, tells us it was banned because viewers had a glimpse of Whitford’s underwear…  For Scottish-Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, who is the subject of the National Ballet of Canada’s new production Frame by Frame, the real sensation was the medium of film itself.  If dancers appeared in early film, and consistently onwards, it was not just because their beautiful moving bodies were the ideal object for the mesmerism of the developed and projected image, but because the medium itself, a trick of the eye combining 24-frames-a-second into a flickering simulation of life, also moves. Technology is a body. When it records another body—or rather, when it records it well—alchemy happens…Frame by Frame is the first large-scale biographical ballet about a Canadian animator, and is likely to be the last…It is the constant process of undoing and reconstituting that makes Frame by Frame integrally queer, and contemporary. In the context of the work’s repeated stress on conceptual linkages—between dance and film, Canada and abroad, past and present—one could say that its dedicated theme is the uncommon, non-normative aspects of multiple forms of encounter.  Canadian Art, June 5, 2018

Meet the Ottawa artist whose neon Cree signs are getting glowing reviews. In more ways than one, Joi T. Arcand’s installations are lighting up the art world.  Originally from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, the Ottawa-based artist has been crafting eye-catching neon signs that spell out phrases in Cree syllabics and installing them in Canadian galleries.  For those efforts, she’s been shortlisted for the 2018 Sobey Art Award: a prestigious $100,000 prize that recognizes a working Canadian visual artist under the age of 40.   CBC News, June 3, 2018


An Open Door, By the Lake: Nadia Belerique Advances Her Symbolism.  A gift embedded in the trip to leafy, tony Oakville Galleries (a half-hour train ride from Toronto) is the moment you give yourself by the lake… In the case of Nadia Belerique’s current exhibition, time by the water serves a more vital function. Stirring the work up, lapping our judgements, leaving a filament (and the odd water bottle) on our thoughts, with flies pinging against our cheeks and bouncing light to remind us of our bodies, the lake wants something, after what we’ve seen; it wants to perform a coda.  Momus, June 2, 2018


Touch, Desire, and the Trinket Box: Celia Perrin Sidarous Shifts Time. Celia Perrin Sidarous’s second solo exhibition at Montreal’s Parisian Laundry was suffused with a sense of authority and sobriety that feels new in her work – a cool, quiet solidity that echoes the ancient stone and marble monuments of her recent photographic subjects. This exhibition, with its poetic, deliberately multilingual Moebius strip of a title, Toujours la coquille de l’autre always the shell of another, is also the first time that Sidarous has exhibited her own hand-crafted ceramics. Momus, June 1, 2018


Artist Eugenia Loli On Her Surrealist Insights.  If you follow artists on Instagram, you can bet your bottom dollar that, if you don’t follow her already, you’ve come across California based Eugenia Loli. A collage artist-come-illustrator-come filmmaker, her works are fun, poppy and dream-like. She is obviously a surrealist at heart as her artwork radiates that hallucinogenic aura that goes hand in hand with the avant-garde movement. Unsurprisingly then, there are nods to Magritte and Dali as well as Picasso and Andy Warhol.   Forbes, June 6, 2018

New York

Whaam! Pow! Lichtenstein Foundation Starts to Wind Down With Big Gifts. At a time when some single-artist foundations are exploring new ways to stay relevant by hosting artist residencies, or giving prizes, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation is making a dramatic impact by beginning the process of winding itself down.  And it is doing so with a bang — or as Lichtenstein might have rendered it in Ben-Day dots, with a Pow!  The foundation is announcing this week that it is giving around 400 artworks in all media by the Pop Art master — about half its holdings — to the Whitney Museum of American Art.  The foundation will also give historical material comprising approximately half a million documents to the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The director of the archives, Kate Haw, said she believed it was the largest single-artist trove the institution had ever received.  For the Greenwich Village-based foundation, which is dedicated to promoting the legacy of Lichtenstein, and contemporary art in general, the gifts mark the beginning of the end. New York Times, June 6, 2018

An Artist’s Film Not Like the Others. Shot in her studio, Ellen Berkenblit did not do the expected in her first film, Lines Roar (2018, color, 12:21 min), which the artist made in collaboration with the directors Mónica Brand and Francisco Lopez of Mogollon, with an original sound track by Zeena Parkins. Lines Roar is currently playing downstairs at The Drawing Center (through June 10, and then June 27 to August 12).   We see Berkenblit drawing on a large canvas. She is left-handed and uses charcoal. She rubs lines out with her hand and with a cloth. She never looks at the camera.  Hyperallergic, June 2, 2018

Google and the World Monuments Fund highlight Iraqi heritage under threat.  The World Monuments Fund in New York has partnered with the tech giant Google on a series of online exhibitions and stories that highlight efforts to preserve Iraq’s built heritage. Launched on the Google Arts & Culture platform today, the project includes drone footage of ancient sites and structures like the ziggurat in Borsippa and the Archway of Ctesiphon, 3D models of now lost architecture, like Babylon’s famous Ishtar Gate, and documentation of sites that have been damaged or destroyed by Isis, including Nimrud, Hatra and Mosul.  The Art Newspaper, June 6, 2018

Kiki Smith Takes Over the Eldridge Street Synagogue with 50 Artwork.  Before the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, birds flew in through holes in the roof. The animals roosted in the 19th-century structure that was once a haven for Eastern European Jews on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but it had fallen into a decline because of a shrinking membership and its leaking sanctuary was closed off half a century ago. Now three sculptures by Kiki Smith recall this moment of the synagogue’s decay, with gold leaf-covered birds perched on aluminum chairs. They’re installed on the third level women’s gallery of the synagogue — opened as the Museum at Eldridge Street in 2007 — with one suspended up by the rose window, soaring in the kaleidoscopic light.  Hyperallergic, June 5, 2018


The Peruvian-American Artist Weaving Vibrant Artworks That Explore Craft and Sexuality.  The 29-year-old artist regularly hosts drag king nights, where participants take on a masculine persona, just as drag queens perform femininity. For Sarah Zapata’s drag king shows—titled “Nightwood,” after the celebrated novel by Djuna Barnes—she invites fellow artists to perform, but never specifies what style of drag or masculinity she is looking for. The result is a public space for participants to experiment and play; at the most recent iteration, Jesus performed a dance while inside of the aforementioned enormous sock.   Artsy, June 5, 2018


Summer Exhibition/The Great Spectacle review – a Grayson revolution.  There’s an orgy going on at the Royal Academy. People are tumbling over each other, cavorting in ecstasy, revealing all. Who knew the summer show could be so subversive?   This riotous assembly appears in a deliriously funny and rude satire on the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition drawn by Thomas Rowlandson in about 1800. It’s included in The Great Spectacle, a survey of the (nearly) 250-year history of what is now called the Summer Exhibition that runs parallel to this year’s show. What a quarter-millennium it has been.  The Guardian, June 5, 2018


Leiden Collection shows off two ‘new’ Rembrandts in Amsterdam.  The Leiden Collection, owned by the US billionaire Thomas Kaplan and his wife Daphne Recanati Kaplan, has unveiled two paintings newly attributed to Rembrandt at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam. The Special Guests display, which opened last month, marks the return of the Portrait of Petronella Buys (1635) and Man with a Sword (around 1640-44) to the Netherlands for the first time in a century.  The Art Newspaper, June 5, 2018


Iran’s art market defies expectations in face of US sanctions with new fair. Teer Art, Iran’s first ever art fair, opens in Tehran later this month (24-30 June), featuring 11 Iranian galleries that mainly specialise in contemporary art. According to government figures, galleries in Tehran have leapt from fewer than ten to 150 in the past five years.  Interest in contemporary Iranian art is also growing in the West, thanks in part to the large number of Iranian collectors living outside the country. CAMA, a specialist gallery, opened its first space in London in April (and third in Iran on 1 June), while Iranian art accounted for half of the revenue generated at Sotheby’s Middle East auction last year. The Art Newspaper, June 6, 2018


From Picasso’s Signature to Kahlo’s Unibrow, Who Legally Owns the Rights to an Artist’s Brand?  The core legal right that gives an artist the ability to commercially exploit their name, image, likeness, signature, or other unequivocal aspects of identity, is broadly known as the “right of publicity.” Publicity rights are typically governed by the jurisdiction where the individual resided in at the time of their death, although there are exceptions to that rule. The jurisdiction that governs publicity rights matters quite a bit, given the fact that they can vary significantly country to country and even state to state.  Artsy, June 5, 2018


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