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Akimbo is a Toronto-based company that promotes contemporary visual art, video, new media and film locally, nationally and internationally via the internet. Established in November, 1999, Akimbo has built a readership of more than 6,800 Canadian and international media and visual arts professionals and a client base of some of the country's most important galleries, museums, art institutions and film and video festivals.

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    I’m not a sports guy, so the overlap between athletics and art is often lost on me, but an afternoon spent watching gymnastics competitions at the Pan Am Games was enough to get me thinking about the shared obsession with self presentation, refining small gestures, parading symbolic imagery, and both the process and product of intense physical and mental discipline (I should be a colour commentator, right?). I was hoping to find a corresponding instance of athleticism in art in a gallery setting, but none of the official Panamania exhibitions grabbed me, so it was a relief when the folks at 8-11 contacted me about their current and not uncoincidentally timed exhibition The Radiant by Calgary-based artist Craig Fahner in collaboration with American artist Steve Gurysh.



    Craig Fahner, Basic Orbital Maneouvres, 2015, Le Corbusier LC4 chaise longue, virtual reality headset, 3D assets

    The leaping off point for this duo is the set of elemental and mythological associations tied to the Olympics, but any old highly ritualized, global competition involving meaningless actions will do. Gurysh’s Carbohydrocarbon sculptures in the front window – a trio of partially melted Nike sneakers that float magically over their plinths – adds a layer of commodity culture to the transcendent themes. Things get downright creepy in the gallery’s basement simply because of the serial killer décor, which shouldn’t have anything to do with the virtual reality experience of Fahner’s animation Basic Orbital Maneouvres, but it certainly lends a sense of dread to the disorienting experience. The final piece is a short video that recreates a torch relay across the Canadian landscape through a series of transformations of energy. For my purposes, this works as a handy metaphor for the actions, transformations, and journeys found in art, but there’s a lot more going on here as well.


    8- 11: https://www.facebook.com/pages/8-11/1398727583745965
    Craig Fahner & Steve Gurysh: The Radiant continues until August 5.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    The future ain’t what it used to be. That’s what occurred to me after I watched this short doc about proto-internet art made on the Betamax of image transmission protocols in Toronto back in the eighties. It also came to mind while I was watching the video diptych at the core of Geoffrey Pugen’s exhibition White Condo, currently on display at MKG127. Like all science fiction, it tells us more about ourselves and the present than any possible future. The speed of change both on the streets and online over the last thirty years makes it easy to disregard the brave new world we contend with on a daily basis. Blasts from the past throw our present into relief and slightly askew representations of five minutes from now rouse us from the trance of incessant distractions.



    Geoffrey Pugen, White Condo, 2015, unique 2 channel HD video

    Pugen takes the latter path with a short video depicting the type of alienating dystopia populated by attractive but emotionally inert humans wearing tunics as seen in films from Logan’s Run to Ex Machina. The difference here is the setting is an actual condo amongst further condo developments in present day Toronto. The narrative follows the assessment of a young man for residence in the condo, the female psychologist who is monitoring him, and the computer she answers to. I won’t spoil the ending for you, though the entire video is a spoiler as the cinematic conceit that is finely crafted – right down to the soundtrack – within the sealed container of the apartment is routinely shattered by the realism of the scene outside those inescapable windows. The underwrought play-acting of the movie becomes an analogy for the dramas that play out across the city and are increasingly validated only when caught on camera and broadcast online. That’s the real outcome of the internet – a fate that would never have been predicted way back when artists were animating graphics on appliance-sized computers. Now we are what is reproduced and fragmented over phone lines. We are our own creations and the line between what’s real and what’s hyperreal is found and lost in the pixels.


    MKG127: http://www.mkg127.com/
    Geoffrey Pugen: White Condo continues until August 8.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    August is a slow time for exhibitions in Calgary and everywhere else. Most ARCs and galleries are wrapping up their season’s programming at the end of this month. One notable exception is TrépanierBaer’s Still Life: Looking at the Overlooked, a pleasing alternative to the typical commercial gallery “summer show” that is either dedicated to emerging artists or a half-baked array of old inventory. Not so here – this is a proper group exhibition curated by the always interesting Jenifer Papararo, formerly of the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver (where Still Life originated, somewhat altered in this iteration) and currently of Winnipeg’s Plug In ICA.



    Liz Magor, Opal, 2014, polymerized gypsum, tissue paper, handkerchiefs, plastic bags

    The exhibition features a selection of quiet works by a range of international and well-travelled Canadian artists, including Damian Moppett, Liz Magor, Chris Cran, Vikky Alexander, and Ron Terada. The theme of the persistence of the still life in contemporary art is perhaps most compelling in the exhibition’s three-dimensional works. James Carl’s plastic jug carved out of marble, An Te Liu’s geometric obelisk, and Liz Magor’s gypsum shopping bag all play with materials and everyday objects in a manner that is both humorous and possessing latent conflict or critique.

    Still Life also includes work from diverse time periods. It was great to see IAN BAXTER&’s flattened, vacuum-molded plastic bottles from 1965 and Fred Herzog’s My Room, Harwood Street from 1958 look fresh in this context. This sizeable exhibition is a good way to spend some time on an idle afternoon without jeopardizing your summer buzz. And while it’s great to see a tight group exhibition at a commercial gallery in Calgary and to be a primary whistle stop on the travelling exhibition circuit, it would be nice to see more exhibitions like this produced locally.


    TrépanierBaer: http://www.trepanierbaer.com/
    Still Life: Looking at the Overlooked continues until August 15.


    Sarah Todd is a curator currently based in Calgary. Formerly the curator of Media Arts at Western Front, she has also worked at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, XPACE Cultural Centre and The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Sarah has produced projects with a range of organizations including Vtape, Kunstverein Munchen, The Goethe Institute, The Pacific Cinematheque, Glenbow Museum and The Illingworth Kerr Gallery. She was formerly one of Akimblog’s Art + Tech correspondents and can be followed on Twitter @sarahannetodd.


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    Currently installed at Field Contemporary is The Oasis, a three-hole mini golf course designed by local artists Vanessa Brown, Steve Hubert, and Allison Tweedie, with a Pro Shop stocked by Mark DeLong. Visitors are encouraged to “Come play!”

    Hubert’s Wall Rider seems to be a bricolage of the artist studio, but beyond this valley of cardboard is the story of a bodily function. In your ball’s way are a nonchalantly placed empty beer bottle, a shallow fountain gently streaming yellow tinted water, and the hole for the ball itself (a red American party cup). Brown’s Swiss Cheese abuts flat curvaceous shapes with copper tubing accents. This hole channels its respective artist’s sensibilities most directly. In this sense, it could still pass as an autonomously fabricated sculpture beyond the hyper-specific conditions of this exhibition. Tweedie’s collage compositions form the backdrop of Part of a Whole: yes, it is a pun, but perhaps it alludes to how this artist who works predominantly in drawing and paper collage is a team player in this sculpturally demanding context.



    Vanessa Brown, Swiss Cheese, 2015, MDF, paint, polyurethane, rocks, copper

    In the Pro Shop, Delong’s marker drawings are reproduced like a logo on t-shirts and mugs, which can be sold at pedestrian prices. The retail aspect is a bit of a farce, though these blatant commodities are included in a pricelist along with each artist’s hole. Within a commercial art gallery, such gestures might start as ironic critiques and end in fallacy, but the irony seems lost in the project’s sincere attempt to simply “re-create the atmosphere of those summer evenings.”

    It’s a “summer show” – a casual term applied to exhibitions marking the winding down of a certain kind of rigor that’s apparently exercised exclusively in the winter months. Usually summer shows are fun and nice. It’s free to play, but the true cost might be the suspension of your summer intellect. However, it is summer and Field Contemporary wants you to have fun, so I left the gallery and found my way to a go-cart track.


    Field Contemporary: http://www.field-contemporary.com/
    The Oasis continues until August 22.


    Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada and the United States. She is the editor of Bartleby Review, an occasional pamphlet of criticism and writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.


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    When I first came across David Altmejd’s work in the mid-oughts, it seemed to emerge from, or fit into, a certain romantic zeitgeist for the fantastical, the fragile, the transformative, and the sublime. On a superficial level it cottoned onto hipster primitive fashions, and the artist’s predilection for werewolves corresponded to a local cultural moment where Montreal produced more than one successful band featuring “wolf” in its name. However, on a deeper level the work was unsettling as much for its beauty – seen in his use of fur, mirror, crystals, and compositional structures reminiscent of high-end window displays – as for the sex and death subject matter.



    David Altmejd, Untitled 6 (The Watchers), 2014, steel, plaster, burlap, polystyrene, expandable foam

    Almost ten years later, the exhibition Flux at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal brings together past and present work. Though not designed chronologically, the exhibition begins with an early work: a small portrait bust of Altmejd’s sister. Locks of hair hang tenderly around a dark crystallized chasm where her face should be. Around the corner is a room full of small head sculptures, similar to that of the sister, but varying in success. Some verge on cartoonish and kind of… gaudy. Herein lies my problem with Altmejd’s practice: his sculptures can be beautifully crafted with mysterious and magical results, but they can also look clumsily made and garish (and not in a good way).

    Altmejd rose to prominence representing Canada at the 2007 Venice Biennale, right before the 2008 financial crisis, and after that moment I’ve always viewed his work differently. In the subsequent societal context his work lost some of its magic, often seeming blingy and facilely appealing to the 1%. At the MACM opening, the amount of wealthy-looking people taking selfies of their mirrored reflections only confirmed my wariness. In recent years Altmejd has branched out, intermittingly working in plaster rather than mirror and crystal. However, these works look like a poor man’s Antony Gormley. That being said, when he’s good, he’s really good. So, like every other time I have seen an Altmejd exhibition, I left Flux feeling completely confused – unsure how to negotiate between my cynicism and my, perhaps nostalgic, appreciation.


    Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal: http://flux.macm.org/en/
    David Altmejd: Flux continues until September 13.


    Susannah Wesley is an artist and curator living in Montreal. She has been a member of the collaborative duo Leisure since 2004 and from 1997-2000 was part of the notorious British art collective the Leeds13. Formerly Director at Battat Contemporary in Montreal, she holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Art History from Concordia University. She is Akimblog's Montreal correspondent and can be followed @susannahwesley1 on Twitter.


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    Blink and you’ll miss it. And you’ll be sorry because sometimes the smallest gestures can resonate long after they’ve disappeared. Excellent art does this whenever it can. You recognize it when the work is still ping ponging around your head days after you’ve left the gallery. A solid exhibition can have the same effect. The simple (as in uncomplicated, but not un-complex) pieces that combined to make the compact but impactful Repair Centreat the Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery (found at the eastern end of the Wychwood Barns) continue to ricochet through my thoughts despite their straightforward circumstances. Unfortunately, coincidentally, and appropriately, the brevity of their gestures was matched with a brief display period, and the experience that elicited my response was over in little more than a week – which is also a lesson in keeping on your toes. You probably blinked.



    Amanda Rataj, Barbara’s Socks, 2013, wool, modern sock wool

    This exhibition of ideas instigated by objects was held together by a theme both elementary and evocative: repair. Former Akimblog correspondent Steven Cottingham went back to philosophical basics with his appropriated chunks of cobblestone and asphalt to consider the identity of a road under repair and at what point it stopped being the same road it had always been. On a reduced scale Amanda Rataj darned modern wool into ancient socks to create an abstract patchwork that illustrated our relation to the past. The past reared up again in Danny Custodio’s photographs of trees pruned to make way for hydro wires. Instead of immediately coming to nature’s defence, you might just want to revisit the question of origins here. Rebecca Jane Houston did just that with her reclaimed planks of wood revivified through representation (that is, they had the appearance of being alive). Lee Henderson shifted things into the realm of artistic restoration and attempted to mend past wrongs by incinerating books writers never intended to see the light of day (think about that for a minute – repairing through destruction – then go read some Nietzsche, then go read about Nietzsche’s sister). Lastly, Jaclyn Quaresma got literally elemental with an installation of melting beeswax designed to return the very air we breathe to a pollution-free state. All you had to do was inhale, but in doing so the exhibition became a part of you. If that isn’t a metaphor for the artistic experience, then I don’t know what is.


    Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery: http://atthebarns.org/gallery/about-the-gallery/
    Repair Centre was on display from July 22 until August 2.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    Most artists have it pretty easy. They stick to the safe confines of the studio, wrestling only with personal demons and manageable media before delivering their work into a carefully controlled environment designed expressly for the protection of their baby. The gallery, from its architecture to the behaviors it entrenches, serves as a fortification to the chaos of the real world. Like many things we accept as natural, we only realize how artificial it is when it’s gone.



    Marlon Griffith, Ring of Fire, 2015

    Trinidadian artist Marlon Griffith abandoned the shelter of art world institutions this past Sunday to bring his creation to the masses with nothing less than a parade curated by Emelie Chhangur of the Art Gallery of York University that made its way down University Avenue from the bottom of Queen’s Park to Toronto’s City Hall. In that short distance, the artist and his dozens of collaborators had to contend with weather (it was hot), costumes (all of which were rooted in the Caribbean Carnival “mas” tradition, some of which involved extended appendages), disabilities (which many of the participants had), traffic (which was only temporarily blocked in a city with chronic gridlock), lack of context (most of the people in those cars had no idea what was going on), scale (given the size of the procession, there was no way to experience it all), and the inevitable entropy that occurs when the surrounding ambience overwhelms the experience (without white walls, the artist must work against the city itself). However, given the craziness of the endeavor as well as the event, it came off. For a brief moment, an unlikely ritual was held amid the hustle, bustle, and ennui of urban life. For a fraction of the day, there was art in the world.



    Marlon Griffith, Ring of Fire, 2015

    The parade’s final destination was a cultural event celebrating the opening of the Parapan Am Games. Griffith’s inclusion of people with disabilities alongside indigenous groups (particularly the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation) and youth groups representing the diversity of Toronto (from Capoeira dancers to spoken word poets) was meant as an act of solidarity and a play on the possible meanings of accessibility. Part of me hesitated at the conflation of such disparate communities, but in the end I accepted the gumbo of cultural resistance as a gesture of inclusion. Parades are rarely homogeneous entities even when they’re intended as demonstrations of unity. They serve as a great metaphor of movement (both political and literal), of the mixed-up masses, of disruption, and of celebration (not to mention masquerade and the wonders of self-representation). My hat is off to Griffith and his collaborators for their perseverance in making this one happen.


    Art Gallery of York University: http://www.theagyuisoutthere.org/rofire/
    Marlon Griffith: Ring of Fire took place on August 9.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    If nothing else, Plug In ICA deserves credit for its take on low-key summer programming. Over ten weeks, while the main gallery is given over to the annual Summer Institute and a lively exhibition by visiting faculty, it’s rolling out a series of short animations that resemble nothing so much as vintage screensavers – hypnotic, headache-inducing abstractions by Vancouver-based French artist Nicolas Sassoon.

    Viewable online and on the lobby’s substantial four-screen array, Nature Falls comprises five hard-edged, procedurally generated patterns, all rendered in a restrictive, web-safe palette. Each animation refers back to the natural world, however, with meaningless data visualization giving way to sun-dappled, glitchy water and undulating, pixilated atmospherics.



    Nicolas Sassoon, Sunny Lands

    Despite effects that bring to mind a malfunctioning game console, Sassoon mostly sidesteps the nostalgic posturing that’s come to characterize “post-Internet” art and canonical New Media’s dated futurism. For better or worse, Sassoon’s use of technology, like his putative Romantic embrace, implies no especial qualification or critique. While he borrows from Minimalism’s perceptual concerns and might be at home on first-gen Conceptualism’s mystic fringe, what we get is abstracted, awestruck 19th Century landscape optimized for in-browser viewing.

    The woozy-making patterns are evocative in their own right, but Plug In has commissioned responses by artists and writers for each of the five installments. The resulting shifts in perspective help differentiate the works from those fibre-optic waterfall pictures you might buy at an underperforming shopping mall, though the original resemblance is probably more a feature than a bug.



    Nicolas Sassoon & Alex Quicho, Sunny Lands (animated gif by Steven Leyden Cochrane)

    Simply tweaking the existing parameters, Alex Snukal rotatesOut My Window #1ninety degrees, shrinks it, and tiles it, appending an audio analog in the form of a vertiginous Shepard tone (a sound illusion in which a collection of tones seems to ascend in pitch indefinitely). Alex QuichoenrichesSunny Lands with a text that teases olfactory and tactile responses, at once heightening and betraying original’s bloodless optics. Remaining contributors include Tiziana La Melia, Jinhan Ko, and Andrew Berardini. This summer series comes to a close September 13.


    Plug In ICA: http://plugin.org/exhibitions/2015/nature-falls-nicolas-sassoon
    Nicolas Sassoon: Nature Falls continues until September 13


    Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, where he contributes weekly exhibition reviews to the Free Press. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.


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    In his coming-of-age book, The Anxiety of Influence, Harold Bloom explains the fraught relationship of young poets to their predecessors. The tyros want to be original, but are in danger of simply being derivative. I sensed a similar dialectic at work in my introductory visit to the current – and hopefully continuing – Regent Park digs of the upstart, artist-run Younger Than Beyoncé Gallery. The name is inspired by the New Museum’s 2009 Younger Than Jesus triennial and, like that exhibition, establishes an age limit (thirty-three) for participating artists. I’m far enough over that hill to know youth is not so much a place of originality as possibility, and the challenge new artists face is to come up with fresh variations on age-old ideas. A gallery dedicated to emerging talent is just one instance of that rejuvenation and previous generations of local artists will recall their own versions fondly (Money House, Art System, or West Wing Art Space, anyone?).



    Shannon Scanlan, Soft Manipulations 1–4, 2015, various fabrics, beads, zippers, clips, wire, wool

    YTB throws down another reoccurring theme with their current exhibition Flawless and its focus on feminist art practice. The f-word means any number of things in the early 21st Century, but what unites these eight artists is an adherence, whether knowingly or not, to the work that precedes them. The best of what’s on display, such as the bio-morphic fabric forms of Shannon Scanlan, manage to add something extra to their existing lineage. She extends the trajectory of Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith, Luanne Martineau, Karen Azoulay, and Allyson Mitchell by introducing new materials such as athletic wear to their tradition of soft sculpture. Danièle Dennis’ ongoing series of photographs of individual strands of hair ties into the work of black women artists like Adrian Piper, Ellen Gallagher, and Karma Clarke Davis, but does it through a disarmingly clinical process.



    Lauren Fournier, Movement for Photoautomat: Berlin Feminist Flash, 1-10 (detail), 2014, photoautomat strip

    Lauren Fournier’s photo-based works are too nostalgic for obsolete media and vintage fashion to escape the pull of Cindy Sherman and Suzy Lake’s role-playing from four decades ago, but I get the feeling that’s her intention. Polina Teif and Shannon Garden-Smith head in the opposite direction and are adamantly contemporary with their street-art inspired paste-ups of distressed advertising stripped of context. This type of work always seem out of place in a gallery setting, but they’d be perfect scattered around the city. In contrast, Audrey Assad’s watercolours and Rachel Ludlow’s acrylic painting are right at home inside and they anchor the exhibition with images that don’t immediately remind me of anyone – which, in this context, is the best compliment I know!


    Younger Than Beyoncé: http://www.ytbgallery.com/
    Flawless continues until August 29.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    As summer dwindles to a close you pretty much have to go to a museum if you want to see a contemporary art exhibition in Montreal. With very few exceptions, everything else is closed. So this week I checked out Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Not only does the exhibition contain a treasure trove of Rodin sculptures and drawings, it also features Rodin-themed works by contemporary Canadian artist Adad Hannah and filmmaker Denys Arcand.



    Denys Arcand & Adad Hannah, The Burghers of Vancouver

    As someone with a background in studio art and art history, and a continued engagement with both, I find the idea of mashing up historical and contemporary art works compelling, albeit potentially complicated. I admire the desire to bring Rodin into the present and illustrate how his work resonates with artists today. However, in this case I found the contemporary room, as a curatorial strategy, to be merely tacked on. If it had stood separately, elsewhere in the museum, as a Hannah show that happened to compliment the Metamorphoses exhibition, it would have been stronger. But stuck at the end, next to an interactive “touchy feely” room of plaster replicas and, ultimately, the gift store, this inclusion just felt like it was checking off another box to make the show a zingier ride for the viewers.

    Also, as is often the case in these scenarios, contemporary work by mid-tier artists falls flat next to the work of art historical masters. I was mildly surprised that Hannah’s work stood up as well as it does. The documentary-style approach taken in different ways by both The Burghers of Vancouver (his collaboration with Arcand) and Unwrapping Rodin mitigates some of this fall-out.


    Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.mbam.qc.ca/en/
    Metamorphoses: In Rodin’s Studio continues until October 18.


    Susannah Wesley is an artist and curator living in Montreal. She has been a member of the collaborative duo Leisure since 2004 and from 1997-2000 was part of the notorious British art collective the Leeds13. Formerly Director at Battat Contemporary in Montreal, she holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Art History from Concordia University. She is Akimblog's Montreal correspondent and can be followed @susannahwesley1 on Twitter.


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    The fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery is home to an on-going series of exhibitions that puts the work of Emily Carr in “dialogue” with artists working in British Columbia. Currently on display and timed with the 21st International Symposium of Electronic Art is the fifth installment of this program, which features multiple projector installations by Wallpapers (Nicolas Sassoon, Sylvain Sailly, and Sara Ludy) next to a salon-style room displaying Carr’s drawings and paintings of BC’s coniferous landscape.



    Sarah Ludy, Acid Cloud (still), 2015, computer-generated animation

    The floor-to-ceiling projections in the first two rooms show a compilation of animations that reference forests, mountains, and sky. Making connections between new media and painting usually results in something tenuous at best, but Ludy and Sassoon’s animations share some formal qualities with Abstract Expressionism and Pointillism that soften the digital touch. The slow permutations of her Acid Cloud push a nuclear palette across the walls in forms that morph back and forth between fluffy neon clouds and paint globules floating across a wetland.

    Sassoon’s pixelated mountain range demonstrates the surprising faculty of computer graphics to distribute tone and shade – producing a mood Caspar David Friedrich might have approved of. Thin black arches and grids superimposed over the mountains refer to the architectural style in the second room (defined by its low-ceiling of gridded beveled squares), and point to the institutional influence over the discourse of landscape in art and, by extension, Carr the artist.

    In response to patches of clear-cutting depicted in Carr’s paintings in the next room, Sailly’s VC_3 shows a pattern of white cylinders that ascend from the solid green background, collapse into smaller sections, and disperse, ghost-like, in all directions. Using sterile and simple shapes instead of overt natural imagery, mechanisms within the landscape can begin to be considered.


    Vancouver Art Gallery: http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca/index.html
    Beyond the Trees: Wallpapers in Dialogue with Emily Carr continues until September 7.


    Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada and the United States. She is the editor of Bartleby Review, an occasional pamphlet of criticism and writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.


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    Pith Gallery is a relatively unusual space in Calgary, but it inhabits the artist-studios-upstairs/art-gallery-downstairs model seen in many other Canadian cities (the burgeoning 221a empire in Vancouver and the now defunct White House in Toronto, for example). Located in Inglewood across the street from the Esker Foundation, it provides a foil to Esker’s monied super-slickness. Changing up exhibitions every three or four months, Pith primarily exhibits work from local and emerging artists.



    Nate McLeod & Cassandra Paul

    This season’s exhibition is from Calgary artist/curator/arts-admin person Nate McLeod and artist Cassandra Paul, both of who are relatively recent ACAD grads. Titled Under New Management, the two-floor exhibition is instantly recognizable as “contemporary painting” – aka painting as installation – with canvasses installed over doors, propped up against the wall, on the floor, etc. I learned from the gallery sitter that the artists share a studio, which is abundantly evident in the way the exhibition is cohesive to the point of appearing to be a solo show. The work itself is a super-pop ode to summer. A relatively traditional painting of a lifeguard station stands out, as do neon rainbow text-based paintings that include winking de Kooning signatures. A black thrift store vase (contemporary art loves a vase these days) makes repeat appearances as a kind of faux-naif Morandi nod. The tropical coloured packaging of Palm Bay (a sparkling vodka drink, I’ve since learned) is a leitmotif throughout the whole exhibition (including an entire wall of diagonally spaced cans), employing the time honoured pop-art strategy of subverting wide ranging marketing for aesthetic means. I couldn't see the connection to the “internet and digital technology in contemporary painting” mentioned in the press release, but it doesn’t really matter since Under New Management succeeds as an effervescent summer exhibition occupying the deeply important niche of not-commercial, not artist-run centre exhibition spaces.


    Pith Gallery Gallery and Studios: http://www.pithgallery.com/
    Nate McLeod & Cassandra Paul: Under New Management continues until September 19.


    Sarah Todd is a curator currently based in Calgary. She has previously worked at Western Front, InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, XPACE Cultural Centre, and The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. She has also produced projects with a range of organizations including Vtape, Kunstverein München, The Goethe Institute, The Pacific Cinematheque, Glenbow Museum and The Illingworth Kerr Gallery. She is Akimblog’s Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Twitter @sarahannetodd.


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    This past weekend the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art ended both the summer and their run on Queen West with an exhibition that went big with a life-sized beach shack slash club house replacing the entrance and a full-sized yacht tipped on an angle to fit the mast inside the gallery. Farther west in Parkdale and a bit north on Lansdowne (within spitting distance of MOCCA’s eventual new home on Sterling), another exhibition went small with a series of dioramas built into jewelry boxes and watch cases that had as much impact, if not more intrigue, than the blockbuster gestures back down in hipster-ville.



    TALWST, The Rape, 2015, mixed media

    Dean Baldwin owned the ship and retrofitted it with his usual supply of social lubricants and signifiers; though unless you visited when one of the many summer programs that animated the setting were in full swing, you missed an essential element of the art (though, to be honest, I think the sailboat said enough on its own in an empty room). TALWST’s miniatures in Convenience Gallery’s window, on the other hand, are each self-contained in a cubby hole-sized cubicle that is only visible from the street. Each tiny scenario is suspended as if in a vacuum and held at a distance, like valuables behind bulletproof glass, yet exposed to the outside world. The six on display reference art history, mythology, and anthropology, while also alluding to current issues regarding race and gender. There’s a fantastical aspect to the suggested narratives that demands a private viewing at odds with the outdoor location, so I’d recommend swinging by late at night when no one will interrupt your reverie. And, like the very small art of Hagop Sandaldjian, the monkish discipline needed to craft such details lends a sacred aura to the work while also demonstrating the undeniable presence of the artist's hand. Precision is the ally of intent when the object of the art is both perception and contemplation.


    Convenience Gallery: http://conveniencegallery.com/#about
    TALWST: Outside continues until September 6.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    Some cities really go for pop-up art spaces, but in Montreal they don’t happen nearly enough. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of ambition or that most people are satisfied by the dozens of artist-run centres the city maintains. However, this summer Galerie Éphémère suddenly appeared in a shipping container at the Village au Pied du Courant by the Jacques Cartier Bridge, so you could enjoy a cocktail and wriggle your toes in the sand while checking it out. Each weekend the gallery hosted a new exhibition by an emerging artist. Earlier in the season local artists such as Luc Paradis and Elise Windsor were featured. This past weekend it was an installation by Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik.



    Galerie Éphémère

    I visited on a blistering Sunday afternoon and stepped through a rustic DIY door – the front of the container had up until this exhibition been open – to enter a space resembling an abandoned building site hanging with plastic sheeting and drywall. At the back was a slide show depicting abandoned rental spaces. Maybe it was just the extreme heat and lack of air, but I felt the photographs could have stood on their own without such an elaborate setting. Hiding just behind our quotidian experience, the abandoned spaces, in various stages of deconstruction and/or decay, hint at unknown histories and futures. I wish I could have spent more time looking at these images, but I had to go back outside and breathe.

    Galerie Éphémère’s final exhibition featuring Cat Lamoureux and Milo Reinhardt pops up this coming weekend.


    Galerie Éphémère: http://galerie-ephemere.com/
    See website for current exhibition.


    Susannah Wesley is an artist and curator living in Montreal. She has been a member of the collaborative duo Leisure since 2004 and from 1997-2000 was part of the notorious British art collective the Leeds13. Formerly Director at Battat Contemporary in Montreal, she holds an MFA from the Glasgow School of Art and an MA in Art History from Concordia University. She is Akimblog's Montreal correspondent and can be followed @susannahwesley1 on Twitter.


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    As the son of a draftsman, my formative association with drawing was as a means to represent the world and its potential. Anything to be built first had to be worked out on paper. I’ve inherited my father’s reliance on diagrams as an aid to thinking in my own teaching practice, though I’m more likely to map out Descartes’ mind/body problem than design a go-kart. The underlying impetus to express an idea visually is one among a number of threads that winds its way through Out of Line, the Oakville Galleries current (and soon to close!) survey of contemporary drawing practice.



    Saimaiyu Akesuk, Untitled, 2013, coloured pencil drawing

    One room in the exhibition is dedicated to process-based drawings that don’t so much represent ideas as work them out. These seemingly clinical works by Ken Nicol, Thérèse Mastroiacovo, Tammi Campbell, and Joshua Schwebel are all also drily humorous, which adds the necessary torque to their absurd endeavors. Elsewhere David Merritt’s contribution is clearly a diagram, but he infuses it with poetry by literally adding language to the work. Around another corner, Jason McLean does the same to cartoonish ends.

    From there the exhibition splits between abstraction and representation, though even some of the former – such as Jennifer Rose Sciarrino’s Rhomboid Floor– and actually examples of the latter. Jaime Angelopoulos and Zin Taylor stay pure with lines and shapes, but stretch the definition of drawing with her pastels and his suspended pieces of wood. Straight-up drawings that keep one foot in the realm of illustration give a friendly face to this dauntingly diverse collection, but that’s not to say Howie Tsui’s scenes of self-mutilation are particularly congenial. However, between Margaret Priest’s radical objectivity to Saimaiyu Akesuk’s interpretive distortions, there’s something for everyone.


    Oakville Galleries: http://www.oakvillegalleries.com/
    Out of Line continues until September 5.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    Is it still too early in the year to call something the best of 2015? Nudging Marcel by Lois Andison sits right in the centre of her solo exhibition at Olga Korper. It was made in 2014 and appeared in the survey exhibition of this singular artist that toured Ontario last year, but I just saw it last weekend and fell in love, which is appropriate because it is, among other things, about love or, at least, relationships. Being a critic, I love it mostly because it gives me a lot to talk about.



    Lois, Andison, Nudging Marcel, 2014, bicycle wheel, found stools, wood, metal, acrylic, custom mechanics, custom electronics

    Appropriating one of the foundational works of appropriation art as well as one made by arguably the most important artist of the 20th Century takes some moxie. Andison does it with aplomb by introducing a second bicycle wheel on a stool – this one triggered by motion detector to start spinning and then lean across to the first wheel to send it into motion – that makes her the active agent and Duchamp merely the recipient of her gift. At first it’s a demonstration of the physical relationship between two objects but then the metaphors start spinning off as well: it’s a story of artistic influence, of interpersonal connection and disparity (the wheels necessarily spin in opposite directions), of historical change, of circadian rhythms, of the gender divide.

    These last two also appear in the others works in the exhibition. In addition to surreal mechanisms, Andison likes to play with words. The moon and the sun are paralleled through opposing vocabulary lists (e.g. sunbathe/moonglow) that, she tells me, tell a story about how female artists often take second place to their male counterparts. There are also neon text pieces that twist common phrases and a video of a swimmer dancing that relies on the pun threading/treading water. Each one is an immaculately crafted puzzle waiting to be disassembled. The most touching piece disassembles itself: Fragmented Self is a list of the works found within the artist’s name and the result provides an inadvertent portrait of both the person and the artist: loins, loss, loan, etc.


    Olga Korper Gallery: http://olgakorpergallery.com/
    Lois Andison: texts, combs, wheels, & poems continues until September 26.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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    The drawings and paintings in Aligned with the curve of night, organized by artists Tiziana La Melia and Julian Hou for Model Projects, unabashedly tease at multiple narrative possibilities, but ultimately encourage a flexing of the imagination. Agnes Scherer’s pencil drawing Untitled converges meticulous line shading with a brutish tape job, and delightfully lists “stickers” under its list of mediums. Three paper “extrusions” speak to the surreal acts of penetration depicted in her adjacent work 3 reading boys and 3 herons soiling the soyle. Katie Lyle’s Everything in the next hour will be true is a striking and unusual portrait in her oeuvre. Cartoonish and automaton-like eyes keep it uncertain whether or not the face you’re staring up at refers to a subject or an object.



    Sojourner Truth Parsons, Everybody plays the fool

    Sojourner Truth Parsons’s nylon flag Everybody plays the fool hangs over the entrance way to the artists’ studios in the back. On a field of thick blue brush strokes, three slugs and a piece of coal form a beguiling eye, and two fingers reach for the silhouette of a cigarette, but they might be seen as a pair of machetes with pink handles. As the translucent surface subtly undulates in the feeble breeze produced by the building’s ventilation, the shapes seem as though they’ll start to float away from each other.

    Lauren Rice’s Even the contemplative life is only an effort, my dear, to hide the body so the feet won’t stick out takes it title from Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood and its composition cites The Rope (a feminine spirituality group on The Left Bank). This painting seems like it comes with a reading list, but these references resonate more as footnotes to Rice’s terracotta dreamscape with a Mount Rushmore of anons and two cigarettes in black Jacuzzi blob. Refreshingly, the commanding figures and objects that appear in all these works obfuscate dramatic symbolism without relying on total abstraction.


    Model Projects: http://modelprojects.org/
    Aligned with the curve of night continues until September 21.


    Steffanie Ling's essays, criticism, and art writing have been published alongside exhibitions, in print, and online in Canada and the United States. She is the editor of Bartleby Review, an occasional pamphlet of criticism and writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She is Akimblog’s Vancouver correspondent and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram @steffbao.


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    You wouldn’t download a Van Gogh. Art theft: it’s a crime. In certain key ways, Collin Zipp’s Recent Acquisitions, which opened last Friday at Martha Street Studio, embodies the spirit of an Internet meme: its abrupt, artless delivery belies complex, subtle, self-reflexive humour. Puckishly and not un-problematically blurring Martha Street’s focus on printmaking, the show comprises eleven near-identical, hand-painted copies of a single, stolen Van Gogh still life – Poppy Flowers, ca. 1887, missing since 2010 from Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Kahlil Museum. Zipp commissioned the paintings online from a Chinese workshop.



    Left: Collin Zipp, Poppy Flowers, 2014
    Right: Vincent Van Gogh, Poppy Flowers, 1887

    As a conceptual exercise, Acquisitions is terse and tidy, adding a few new flourishes to appropriation art’s careworn critique of authorship and deepening some of the creases. On paper, we get a workmanlike rehashing of Sherrie Levine’s rereading of Duchamp, one informed by Conceptual Art’s “managerial” sensibilities and magnified through the outsourced lens of contemporary global capitalism. However, as a brick-and-mortar exhibition of IRL oil paintings, the effect is just as “meta” but also, pleasantly, messier and less mean. Zipp ordered eleven copies, one for each of the Egyptian culture ministry employees arrested in a presumptive show of face-saving accountability theatre following the heist. The tangential reference leads us back to the literal theft behind Zipp’s appropriation, the real people swept up in it, and the actual, absent original.

    The new copies were made from emailed JPEGs, and any trace “aura” of the stolen painting would have been buffed out in the back-and-forth. One hardly misses it. The last legit Van Gogh most Winnipeggers saw was a dreary and not dissimilar still life included in the WAG’s 100 Masters exhibition a few years back. Zipp’s honest forgeries might not be “as good,” but they’re certainly nice enough – reproductions, sure, perfunctory perhaps, but hardly “mechanical” and I’d guess a fair bit cheaper than $50 million to acquire.

    The anonymous painter or painters’ brushwork is lively, proficient, and economical, the painted surfaces untroubled and thin (thinner still for being shipped from China in cardboard tubes). Moving down the line, it’s both easy and rewarding to get swept up in small differences – a subtly varied approach to yellows, especially festive bits of greenery. “Aura” comes sauntering back, casually justifying the business model behind on-demand oil painting.

    Of course the exhibition raises questions of attribution and exploitation, but Zipp’s honest forgeries do more to highlight North America’s inconsistent and selectively applied “concerns” about overseas manufacturing. Here he points the finger at himself as much as anyone, but he gently implicates us all. More than thirty years after After Walker Evans and nearly a century post-Fountain, he positions himself as a convincing and good-natured standard bearer for Duchamp’s long troll.


    Martha Street Studio: http://printmakers.mb.ca/mss/exhibit/exhibition-main-gallery-recent-aquisitions-collin-zipp
    Collin Zipp: Recent Acquisitions continues until October 14.


    Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, where he contributes weekly exhibition reviews to the Free Press. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.


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    It is fitting when a university-based gallery marries art and science together. Curator Peter Dykhuis has done just that with the exhibition of recent works by Thierry Delva and Paulette Phillips at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. Opting for the unconventional medium of the human body, each artist utilizes a different machine to register readouts produced from human responses to external stimuli. In the drawn lines that result, the body is both subject and medium.



    Thierry Delva, Drawings from the Heart: Reproductions, 2014-15 (photo: Kristiaan Dekeijser)

    Phillips explores human nature and the controversial polygraph machine in The Directed Lie. She presents an interactive video archive of test subjects who were directed to falsify their answers to a series of yes-or-no questions being asked by the artist off screen. The split footage shows the polygraph drafting out their readings, laying out a riddle of zigzagging lines for the viewer to contemplate. The work is interactive and engages visitors in both the science and the politics the artist is exploring.

    Thierry Delva also presents a series of prints and a video work in Drawings From The Heart: Reproductions. Here he explores his healing body as a medium in the wake of a heart condition. The artistic process is more veiled with his video piece. The framing encapsulates him as the subject wired intricately to the heart monitor. From off screen a hand reaches in to press a button and a readout of his heart repeats within a changing backdrop of classic art pieces. The prints from this process – reproductions made from the artist's moment in contemplation – hang on numerous walls of the gallery.

    Together the two form an apt show for the first week of school, inviting new and returning students to engage in an open dialogue crossing multiple disciplines.


    Dalhousie Art Gallery: http://www.artgallery.dal.ca/
    Thierry Delva: Drawings From the Heart: Reproductions continues until November 22.
    Paulette Phillips: The Directed Lie continues until November 22.


    Anna Taylor is an artist, crafter, and organizer sitting on the board of the Halifax Crafters Society. She is Akimblog’s Halifax correspondent and can be followed on Twitter @TaylorMadeGoods.


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    I spent a week this past July hanging out in Durham, Ontario with the experimental filmmakers attending senior Canadian artist Phil Hoffmann’s legendary Film Farm. These avant-gardists are often called “fringe” filmmakers and, having spent my youth playing “fringe music” in the Toronto free improv scene, I have a soft spot for creative endeavors that emphasize process and the materiality of the medium. However, when it comes time to assess the results, the product is all that’s left and coherence or some sense of direction is the bottom line. I rely on my gut and intuition in evaluating this work, but leave myself open to possibilities rather than get hung up on expectations. Given the speculative nature of these experiments, it’s better to come at them as a dream analyst rather than a scorekeeper.



    Cynthia Madansky, Tarlabasi, 2014, HD

    Some of the best films in the fringe-y Wavelengths program at the otherwise pretty straightforward Toronto International Film Festival are not unlike dreams. A certain percentage of the works in this program skew to a more formal bent, but those that draw from a slightly older tradition rooted in surrealism provide more in the way of potential substance. Though, like the roommate who recounts her dreams every morning at breakfast, the results can be hit or miss. Cynthia Madansky’s scenes of dancers moving in a mildly alienated fashion through the rubble-strewn streets of Istanbul show the right amount of restraint (whereas the distracting plink plonk soundtrack does not). The legends of witches coupled to washed out landscapes on the island of Lanzarote make for a night of sublime dread in Samuel M. Delgado and Helena Girón’s Neither God Nor Santa Maria. And Calum Walter’s Terrestrial cycles through subways, airports and clouds like a sleepwalker mapping sites of transition and movement.



    Isiah Medina, 88:88, 2015

    The magnum opus of these filmic reveries is Canadian Isiah Medina’s feature length 88:88. It flickers through visuals and voiceover with the frenetic pace of a fever dream, all overlapping images of urban youth and unlikely shifts in setting but with such forward motion it demands attention. It’s also draining, paced like a Ryan Trecartin production but without the computer graphics and millennial logorrhea. My advice is to go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

    Contributions from citizens of the contemporary art world include Mark Lewis’s compilation of city portraits, some of which people will recognize from his recent installations. An hour and a half of said slow pans demands a lot of a sitting audience, so I’m not sure whose interest this serves but it sure looks epic and contemplative. Tony Romano and Corin Sworn contribute a feature that I haven’t seen, but it will be screened for free at Clint Roensich Gallery for the rest of the week. Other than that there are slim pickings for art installations since Future Projections, the separate program for such work, has now been collapsed into Wavelengths, but if you’re interested there’s a Guy Maddin project and something from Apichatpong Weerasthakul out there for you to discover without having to line up.


    Wavelengths: http://tiff.net/festivals/festival15/films#wavelengths
    The Toronto International Film Festival continues until September 20.


    Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.


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