Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, September 11, 2018


Digital records mean ancient northwest coast Indigenous art ’survives’ blaze at Brazil museum.  Centuries-old artifacts from the Pacific northwest coast are among items lost in the recent fire that destroyed the National Museum of Brazil, but a museum curator in Vancouver says the North American works will live on through digitization.  Karen Duffek, a curator with the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, says about 40 northwest coast items, including a more than 300-year-old piece of Tlingit armour from Alaska, burned in Sunday’s blaze.   But Duffek says another curator at the university, working with the Brazil museum, had managed to digitize 42 pieces, adding photos and descriptions to what Duffek describes as a digital portal that gives researchers around the globe access to northwest coast art.  Globe & Mail, September 6, 2018

Esther Shalev-Gerz talks with Linda Solomon Wood about climate change, trees and The Shadow.  Esther Shalev-Gerz is an installation artist who divides her time between Paris and a remote Canadian island. In the video below, we meet her near her studio overlooking a rugged cove on Cortes Island, British Columbia. On a walk through the forest, she takes us to the fallen giant that affirms the timeliness of her monumental new work, The Shadow, which will be inaugurated this week at a public event at UBC.  The work is a provocative meditation on trees. Its roots are entrenched in memory of the scale of the trees that once existed in the lands around the University of British Columbia and the vast changes that have taken place in a relatively short period of time. It is the portrait of the shadow of a tree, frozen in time, simultaneously absent and present.  National Observer, September 9, 2018

VIDEO: Vancouver artist spends years weaving city landscapes.  To say that Sola Fiedler is a rabid recycler would be an understatement.  In fact, the 82-year old Vancouver-based fibre artist has made recycling her life’s work and to that end has brought new vitality to everything from abandoned buildings to the textiles she uses in the oversized tapestries she spends years creating. Vancouver is Awesome, September 7, 2018


Art and memories. Noor Bhangu graduated with a master’s degree in curatorial practices in 2017 and is the curator of Not the Camera, But the Filing Cabinet: Performative Body Archives in Contemporary Art, which runs Sept. 13 to Nov. 24 at U of W’s Gallery 1C03.  Artists include Susan Aydan Abbott, Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter, Sarah Ciurysek, Dayna Danger, Christina Hajjar, Ayqa Khan, Luna, Matea Radic, Sophie Sabet and Leesa Streifler. Body image, aging, psychic trauma, displacement and cultural survival are some of the topics explored.      Winnipeg Free Press, September 10, 2018


Antlers aweigh! Artist Paul Freeman’s gallery@501 show makes a number of points  A half-dozen mutant deer hang from gallery beams like Christmas ornaments, frozen in a contorted ballet. Each pinkish creature sprouts a dozen sets of antlers along its length, branching from unexpected places. In the words of one great Canadian poet, it’s hard to tell if the creatures are yawning or snarling — or screaming, perhaps.Welcome, then, to Paul Freeman’s latest exhibition, Antlers of a Dilemma, in Sherwood Park’s gallery@501. Edmonton Journal, September 6, 2018


The unintended consequences journalism can have on communities.  Ryerson University’s newest exhibition is centred on a photo essay by renowned U.S. photojournalist Gordon Parks, while also taking an uncomfortable look at the role journalism can have on the communities its practitioners aim to help. For a Life magazine assignment in 1961, Parks flew to Brazil to document the da Silva family, who lived in a favela near a wealthy neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro. The published images struck an emotional chord with the public in the United States and almost US$30,000 was donated by readers to the family, which ultimately lead to a “rescue effort” that relocated them to a new home. But in Brazil, the essay sparked such controversy that a photographer was sent in retaliation to document the poverty in New York.  What remains still today are Parks’ remarkable photographs that show his unparalleled ability to capture intimacy in the lives of those he documented.  Globe & Mail, September 10, 2018

Jack Goldstein and Ron Terada.  When lives have been at stake, and lost, in the art world—Dash Snow, Annie Pootoogook, Jack Goldstein—there is a predictable, revolting shrug. What indeed should the art world have to do with caring for and saving lives, when the romantic myth of art abnegates bodies; relegates suffering only to its relationship with art-making; and, vulture-like, stalks the death (whether premature or mature) of those for whom decline, by, say, old age or mental-health issues, has made living unmarketable?.. Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia was a book published by Minneola Press in 2003. Only months before, in March of that year, Goldstein had died of suicide, with enough time for his death to be acknowledged in the book’s introduction by its writer-compiler Richard Hertz.  Since 2011, Ron Terada’s Jack paintings have been excerpting various passages from this book, all Goldstein’s words, on uniformly sized canvases, with white type on black backgrounds. Canadian Art, September 2018


Do Canada’s Art Laws Need to Change?  Since the Cultural Property Export and Import Act (CPEIA)  was developed in 1977, many Canadian museums have been leveraging it to snag significant art donations—arguing that, under the act, such artworks were of sufficient “national importance” to earn art donors a tax credit for the market value of their donated artwork. But in the wake of a recent federal court ruling that narrowed the definition of “national importance” in the act, it’s unclear whether such works could have been donated in the same way today: essentially, it’s doubtful they would now qualify for “national importance” status, so museums wouldn’t be able to secure tax receipts for the donors—hence no donations. Not surprisingly, Canadian museums are now raising the alarm bell about the recent ruling…  But is it the June ruling, or the law itself, that needs to change? Canadian Art, September 6, 2018


Who Benefits from the Indigenous Art Biennial?  There are a few lines of thought that I want to lay out before I begin discussing the Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone—herein referred to by its shorthand BACA—the fourth edition of which ran at various venues in Montreal and Berlin this summer. First, the care, intelligence, and dedication that curators Niki Little and Becca Taylor put into organizing the biennale. Second, the uneasy environment of the current racial climate in Quebec for an organization such as BACA. Canadian Art, September 6, 2018

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts illuminates medieval books of hours.  Brenda Dunn-Lardeau does not lack for enthusiasm.  The UQÀM professor is the driving force, along with Hilliard T. Goldfarb (MMFA senior curator) and Richard Virr (retired head of special collections at McGill), of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ new exhibition Resplendent Illuminations: Books of Hours From the 13th to the 16th Century in Quebec Collections. She exudes a sense of mission talking about artifacts that seldom receive the museum spotlight this show affords them.  Montreal Gazette, September 7, 2018


How naked Burt Reynolds ended up in a Native art gallery in Seattle.  Jolene Haas, daughter of Duwamish Tribe chairwoman Cecile Hansen, was walking through the Steinbrueck Native Gallery in downtown Seattle this past May when she spotted an interesting looking paddle tucked away in the corner.  The cedar paddle depicted the iconic image of a naked Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug. It was made by Tlingit artist Alison Marks., September 7, 2018

United States

A Return to What?  As Momus nears its fourth anniversary, and cautiously begins celebrating its evolution from a very fledgling start, we’ve been met with a review from an elder statesman of criticism, James Elkins. This is the author of The State of Art Criticism, and “Whatever Happened to Art Criticism?”, texts that helped inform our start. He is known for sounding various alarms in the mid-aughts about the “crisis in criticism” – one much-debated among chiefly American critics, and variously argued to be the result of a theory-leaning academe, a sped-up art market, and the critic’s economic destabilization as publications moved online. It’s worth noting that Elkins issued these concerns from within the sound-absorbing walls of the university.  Momus, September 7, 2018

Como, Italy

Hundreds of Roman gold coins found in basement of old theater.  Italian authorities are unveiling the “epochal” discovery of hundreds of Roman-era gold coins that were found during excavations to build a new apartment building in northern Italy.  Construction crews digging in the historic centre of Como discovered the small stone jar containing about 300 coins last week.   CTV, September 10, 2018


Blockchain: Hot stuff or hot air?  A gold rush, a bubble, irrational exuberance—or the Holy Grail? Such are the more extreme descriptions of blockchain, which in the past year has gone from being arcane tech-speak to common parlance. It is increasingly touted as a digital revolution by manifold technology startups in fields as varied as real estate, music, diamonds, insurance, marine archaeology and, yes, art. W… For art transactions, Codex has partnerships with around 5,000 auction houses, all of which are registered on its blockchain. The auction house Paddle8 has also partnered with its owner The Native, a Swiss tech firm, to offer a P8Pass for buyers, certifying their purchases on the blockchain, which boosts trust.   The Art Newspaper, September 10, 2018



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