Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, December 5, 2019


Lacey Prize grants award to Vancouver’s Gallery Gachet. Vancouver’s Gallery Gachet is runner-up for the Lacey Prize, the first award recognizing artist-run centres in Canada.  The National Gallery of Canada announced today that the top prize of $50,000 would go to Hamilton Artists Inc. Gallery Gachet receives the $20,000 runners-up prize, tying with Calgary’s Untitled Art Society.   Georgia Straight, December 4, 2019.  See also:  National Gallery of Canada awards Hamilton Artists Inc. inaugural Lacey Prize.  Globe & Mail, December 4, 2019

Matthew Hyland to take the helm at Contemporary Art Gallery. Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery has named Matthew Hyland as its new executive director, after an extensive global search.   Hyland is director-curator at Oakville Galleries in Ontario, where he’s served for a decade. Amid growth, that facility is working toward relocating to a 30,000-square-foot heritage building in central Oakville.  Georgia Straight, December 4, 2019


ExtraOrdinary Objects.  In “ExtraOrdinary Objects” at Calgary’s Glenbow Museum, curator Sarah Todd attempts to broaden the definition and recent history of readymade art through contemporary contributions including Indigenous and feminist approaches. Works from Prairie-connected artists Eric Cameron, Svea Ferguson, Gordon Ferguson, Audie Murray, Robin Peck, Yvonne Mullock, Arlene Stamp and Tim Zuck similarly evoke bathroom-like media of linoleum, plaster, vinyl tile, Plexiglas, toilet paper and porcelain. They not only elevate the status of the ordinary and annul the item’s original function, but also focus on “transforming our perceptions of ordinary objects through the artist’s hand.”  Canadian Art, December 3, 2019

Taskoch pipon niizh kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew at Truck Contemporary Art, Calgary. Truck Contemporary Art’s current exhibition, Taskoch pipon niizh kah nipa muskoseya, nepin pesim eti pimachihew, opens through a poetic portal of language and land – two essential grounding elements of Indigenous identity and ways of knowing. Translated into English as Like the winter snow kills the grass, the summer sun revives it, the exhibition focuses on the revitalization of Indigenous languages through work by Joi T. Arcand, Richelle Bear Hat, Susan Blight, Tsēmā Igharas, Michelle Sylliboy and Alberta Rose W./Ingniq.  Akimbo, December 4, 2019


Valuing art in our everyday lives: A mission statement from the new head of Edmonton Arts Council.  Sanjay Shahani, the new head of the Edmonton Arts Council, has honed his expertise over many years, doing many different jobs, in many different cities and countries. Prior to starting his Edmonton job this week, Shahani sat down with writer Fish Griwkowsky to talk about public art, goals for the EAC, and settling into a new life in this city.  Edmonton Journal, December 2019


Alison James at Martha Street Studio, Winnipeg.   Winnipeg artist Alison James is very much in accordance with the way memory shapes our identity. She’s written extensively researched essays on episodic memory and used some of that research as fodder for visual work that is just as intricate. Her exhibition The In-Betweens at Martha Street Studio follows this line of inquiry. Although episodic memory is autobiographical, James’ personal recollection through her screen-printed animation doesn’t necessarily position the viewer as a nosey onlooker.  Akimbo, December 4, 2019


Camille Rojas.   Camille Rojas performed Algorithm before an intimate audience during this year’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto. The solo dance performance presented an inquiry into body parts that have been identified as pornographic and then censored by algorithmically enforced online cyber-regulations. Rojas, whose background in ballet informs her contemporary dance practice, moved effortlessly through the space, repeating pedestrian gestures, such as pointing and walking, while tracing out invisible patterns on the gallery floor. She interrupted these acts of pattern-making with bursts of stylized improvisational movement, often emphasizing contact with the ground. Rojas performed without music, which amplified the sounds of her breath, and of her body moving against the plastic-sheet flooring.  Canadian Art, December 3, 2019


Writing Performances.  In mid-September, I was attempting to escape the large crowds of Hamilton’s Supercrawl, the city’s annual arts and music festival, and the lit-up entrance of Hamilton Artists Inc. felt like a promising option. As soon as I walked in, I noticed a large pile of sand in the centre of the room and watched as a young artist fell onto it—disrupting its stillness with her small frame and leaving behind imprints as a record of her movement. I had unknowingly walked in on a performance, which I later learned was I see in the sea the sea by Jana Omar Elkhatib, a Palestinian Canadian performance artist and writer based in Waterloo.  Canadian Art, December 4, 2019

London, Ontario

Michael Gibson has spent 35 years in the business of art and the art of business. “Fate” was Michael Gibson’s one-word answer when asked to explain his life’s work as owner and operator of Michael Gibson Gallery, which has made him part of London’s business landscape for 35 years, an anniversary celebrated with a recent reception.   “You have to be seriously dedicated to the arts to stay in this business so long. It’s not easy, but I love it.  London Free Press, December 5, 2019


From Environmental Activist to Minister of Canadian Heritage.  For more than a decade, Steven Guilbeault led the Quebec nonprofit Équiterre. For a decade more, he worked in other forms of activism, including at Greenpeace. Now, as a rookie Montreal MP, he’s taking on Canada’s biggest arts and culture portfolio. Here, in a condensed interview held a few days into his work as minister of Canadian heritage, Guilbeault reflects on what’s ahead—including intersections between the climate crisis and Canada’s art galleries and museums.  Canadian Art, December 5, 2019


It’s Okay to Laugh: The Political Turn in Bridget Moser’s Prop Art.  Bridget Moser is sore from the previous night’s double performance of What Will Stay You Alive (2019) at VOX for the MOMENTA biennale. She’s about to perform the 26-minute solo again in three hours for “an international delegation of professionals,” who will turn out to be mostly curators from Canada and not the incongruous assembly of foreign businesspeople I had imagined… Moser relishes the idea that others might be judging or criticizing her, but the much more common response is a kind of incredulous awe. She plays to her contemporary artworld audiences, but her performances would slay for almost any crowd. Drawing on clips from popular songs and television shows, incorporating improbably charming products from the demented reaches of Amazon-era capitalism, and propelling her body through distorted choreographies of the most inane, desperate, and unlovely sentiments, Moser’s performances are – to use the yardstick of our time – obsessively watchable.  Momus, December 2, 2019

Miami Beach

Ai Weiwei Is Documenting the Amazon Fires for a New Project.   Chinese artist Ai Weiwei announced a new documentary at Art Basel Miami Beach, where he has several pieces on display, the Art Newspaper reports. With one film already in the works on animals and the environment, Ai sent a camera team to the Brazilian states of Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Amazonas to capture footage of the ongoing fires in the Amazon Rainforest, along with another team which went to Pará to shoot cattle farms. This footage will be used for a separate documentary on the fires, as well as in next year’s production of Turandot at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, which Ai is directing. Hyperallergic, December 5, 2019


Turner Prize Will Be Split Among All Four Nominees, at Their Request.  The four nominees for the 2019 Turner Prize will share this year’s award after collectively urging the judges not to choose a single winner. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Tai Shani, and Oscar Murillo wrote a joint letter to the prize’s panel of judges asking to make the unusual move in the name of “commonality, multiplicity and solidarity,” according to the Guardian. Hyperallergic, December 3, 2019.  See also:  ‘Good for them!’ – subverting the Turner prize is what artists are meant to do The Guardian, December 2019

Caught in the crush: are our galleries now hopelessly overcrowded?    Can you really appreciate art when you have to crane your neck, dodge elbows and wait for selfie-takers to move on? Irate gallery-goers in London and beyond tell us why they’re giving up The Guardian, December 2019


Buffalo jumps and handmade lingerie: the Native American artists ‘reversing colonialism’ As Immense As the Sky, Meryl McMaster’s first UK solo show, is about to open at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, starting a string of exhibitions aiming to wake the UK up to indigenous and Native American art. Like the landscape she captures, McMaster’s photographs feel loaded with meaning, her meticulously constructed outfits and props suggesting complex stories of exploitation, migration, place and heritage. They’re performance, fable, self-portrait and landscape photography all rolled into one.  The Guardian, December 4, 2019


Russia and Syria sign agreement to restore ancient city of Palmyra.  Russia and Syria will team up to create a masterplan to restore the National Museum of Palmyra as a basis for reviving the ancient city in Syria. The State Hermitage Museum and Institute of the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Sciences signed agreements in Damascus with Syria’s Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums. The Art Newspaper, November 27, 2019



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