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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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    Politics are seldom boring in Quebec, and what’s unfolding in Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau’s Papineau riding during this federal election campaign is a great example. Following in the performance art tradition of Mr Peanut and the Rhino Party, artists Kim Waldron and Chris Lloyd are both, separately, running as official independents. And in a lovely turn of events, as part of the performance festival Viva! Art Action, the artist-run centre Optica is hosting the riding’s All Candidates debate.



    Chris Lloyd & Kim Waldron

    Lloyd became known to many Canadians earlier this year when his Conservative candidacy was outed as a performance art project and gained a great deal of media attention. Following his resignation he struck out on his own as an independent. Waldron is also a performance artist. Her practice often involves her taking on the invisible, but often labour intensive, work we take for granted – for example, food produc-tion, cleaning services, and now running for public office.

    There are some definite parallels between these projects. To mention a couple: both artists’ current can-didacies emerge out of earlier works seeking political engagement through letter writing. During the 2012 Quebec student strikes Waldron created Same Day, a letter to then Premier Jean Charest, and for the past fifteen years Lloyd has been attempting to engage with Prime Ministers through his Dear PM project. Both artists have also outsourced their very refreshing campaign poster images to other artists. Clément de Gaulejac drew a charming and dapper cartoon of Lloyd and Waldron had her official portrait painted in triplicate while on residency in China.

    The incumbent, Justin Trudeau, is unexpectedly neck-in-neck in the polls with the NDP candidate, jour-nalist Anne Lagacé Dowson. Could these art projects by chance swing the vote towards Trudeau? Will this unforeseen pressure lead him to show up at Optica’s debate? We’ll have to wait and see…


    Optica: http://www.optica.ca/programmation/index_en.php#877
    The All Candidates Debate takes place on October 5th at 7pm.


    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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    Politics and art make strange bedfellows. There’s nothing art wants more than to make a meaningful and long lasting impact in the world, but there’s something way too immediate about direct and localized action. Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and artists galvanized by the impending federal election have found an outlet in an exhibition that will close the day before our next government is selected. Many of the works on display had a life before curator Lisa Klapstock gathered them together and they all will live on after the big day, but their impact is focused and magnified in this place and at this point in history, so now is obviously the best time to experience them.



    Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak, Lacuna (redux), 2011, rope light, tape, clips

    Currently housed in the space formerly occupied by P|M Gallery (was that a serendipitous pun?), Something to think about is an open-ended collaborative project that marks a new phase in Klapstock’s artistic career. Best known as a photographer, she is now engaged in setting up situations or venues that explore particular contemporary issues through a variety of disciplines. Her first venture brings artists and graphic designers of different generations together to express their discontent with the policies of our current government while at the same time reflecting on the crucial consciousness of hitting the polls.



    Lisa Klapstock, 12. THREAT ASSESSMENT from Appendix 9: ENBRIDGE NORTHERN GATEWAY PROJECT INTEGRATED SECURITY LOGISTICS AND COMMUNICATIONS PLAN, KELOWNA, January 28, 2013, 2015, duct tape

    For an exhibition of text-based art, it's no surprise that the most visually arresting piece is the one without any words. Klapstock's abstract arrangement of black tape on one wall is now recognizable as a representation of redacted text and, in the context of this exhibition, the innumerable (because they are not fully known) ways in which the Harper government has withheld information from Canadian citizens. The flipside to this and the most appropriate platform for those works hoping to effect change are those designed to be in public spaces. Jason Halter and Anita Matusevics' poster campaign highlighting our national restrictions on voting eligibility over the years or Lisa Kiss' wall text love note to Canada deserve to be pasted up in unexpected yet highly visible locations all over the country. Chris Lloyd's Dear PM web project manages this through its use of the postal system and the internet to dramatize the proximity and distance struck between lowly voters and their leaders. Other contributions, like John Marriott's buttons or James Carl's animated gif are made to circulate each in their own way. What these works lose in terms of longevity they aim to make up for in distance, reaching out to the populace and pleading with them to engage the body politic in the simplest way possible: VOTE.


    Something to think about: http://www.somethingtothinkabout.nyc/#vote
    VOTE continues until October 18.


    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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    Buoylines, Colleen Heslin’s current exhibition at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, features new paintings that are comprised of larger and fewer pieces of fabric than her earlier work in this vein. Additionally, her pallet now includes a handful of warm colours that offset the larger areas of washed out greyscale. This reduced approach allows for a formal emphasis on Heslin’s chorus of mark making. Between the act of cutting and subsequent re-stitching of fabric, she undertakes a twofold process of line making. The terse curves and tension of the stitching where the shapes join invites us to surmise where the artist’s initial cuts get resolved in the seam. Her intuition must work double time to produce such compelling lines. In Dash, she leads with the effectively obvious when a seam is superimposed over a long streak of concentrated dye that stretches the height of the painting. It does not follow the path of the dye, but merely quivers along the path of its vertical dispersal – a fissure inspired by a leak.



    Colleen Heslin, Counterpose, 2015, ink and dye on cotton and linen

    Works like LA Sunrise and Attitude, carry Frankenthaler-esque spurts and stains of colour that connote spontaneity on the taut fabric. The surfaces that Heslin dyes to create the cells of colour in her paintings have a much looser fruition. Tabby Cat, Both Sides, and Buoylines are shown in a row by the floor-to-ceiling window of the gallery and have no added confetti of colour, save for an austere slice of indigo wedged between articles of warm and cool greys. By layering a series of formal decisions, accomplished through the process of drawing-by-cutting, manipulating dye, composing fabric, and drawing again by leading needle and thread, these processes are sublimated into a single surface. The result ultimately undermines the utilitarian readings of her choice materials; however, its allure – and it is indeed alluring – stops slightly short of enigmatic.


    Charles H. Scott Gallery: http://chscott.ecuad.ca/
    Colleen Heslin: Buoylines continues until November 1.


    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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    After making my way through the rather uneven and disappointing fall season of local artist-run centre exhibitions, I did find a particularly bright spot: Jay Mosher’s Brasilia at Untitled Art Society. Mosher, who recently completed his MFA at the Glasgow School of Art, takes up the well-worn mantel of contemporary art related to utopianism. In this case, his first point of reference (as the title suggest) is late 1950s Brazil and the ambitious architecture and urban planning that went into developing the highland capital city of Brasilia.



    Jay Mosher, Brasilia

    Beyond the exhibition title – displayed in beautiful stylised writing throughout exhibition – the connection to this specific history was tenuous (by design, I think), and the macro idea quickly gave way to a micro complement: a local Calgary example of 1970s utopian architecture called the Garden House by architect Bill Boucock. The Garden House is located in the tony neighbourhood of Mount Royal and owned by arts patron (and friend of the artist) Gail Anderson. Two monitors on a central pole play videos of the house’s architecture and a (charming) feline occupant. Each monitor is flanked by a custom shag run on the floor – it was unclear if I should sit or stand on it, so I just stood askew and watched the videos. They provided a subtle and cozy meditation on friendship, the built environment, and the privilege of utopianism.


    Untitled Art Society: http://www.uascalgary.org/main-space.html
    Jay Mosher: Brasilia continues until November 28.


    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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    Isabel Rocamora’s exhibition at the Koffler Gallery would be a good instructional tool for an art class looking to consider the degrees of difference between video and video installation as well as the reception of multi-channel work. It begins with a single-screen piece from 2005 that plays on a lonely monitor under an umbrella speaker. This piece is the simplest of the four on view as it consists of only two superimposed takes of a woman moving before a stationary camera. The motifs that will continue through the later work – gestures made into dance, clothes as uniform, the subject as a product of an institution – all appear here in the unresolved figure.



    Isabel Rocamora, Body of War, 2010, film installation

    Next up is a single screen projection titled Body of War that could function as a stand-alone film and play in a theatre. It depicts soldiers acting out hand-to-hand combat while voiceovers explain their military training and experience in conflict. The most striking imagery is the slowed down fighting (the actors move in slow motion; the film moves at regular speed); it fluctuates between dance, savagery, lovemaking, and sport as the camera circles the pair. Another artist might have left this sequence on its own and shown it in silence on an endless loop, but Rocamora frames it within a specific historical and political discourse.

    Across the room is a two-channel projection titled Horizon of Exile that combines scenes of two dancers in the desert along with a narrative of forced travel. It delves into both landscape photography and documentary with its voiceover testimonies and verité footage. The double screen only adds angles and wider perspectives that could have otherwise been accommodated by editing, so it works here but still feels more like a straightforward film.

    It’s not until the final and most recent work, a three-screen projection titled Faith, that the artist arrives at something that could only appear in a gallery. It is one of those works of art that seem so obvious that you can’t believe someone hasn’t already done it, but Rocamora manages to own the concept with her trio of stationary shots of various desert locales, each with a single man of God reciting prayers – one Jewish, one Christian, one Muslim. The lingering gaze on their clothes, their gestures, their songlike prayers, and their intense concentration sets up a chorus of comparisons and differences that helps counterbalance the divisive imagery of the Middle East that is too commonplace and leads to further reflection on our sense of self in the world.


    Koffler Gallery: http://kofflerarts.org/koffler-gallery/exhibitions/upcoming/
    Isabel Rocamora continues until November 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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    Earlier this summer, the Manitoba Craft Council brought together six artists whose contemporary practices map the complex cross-cultural and, at times, highly personal histories of ceramic objects. Touching on themes of cultural appropriation and exchange, mass-production, and the value of labour Play, Precarity and Survival was just one of several recent and upcoming opportunities to consider the medium’s scope and potential. (Curator Sigrid Dahle herself cited as inspiration Rebecca Belmore’s 2014 community-assisted installation at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Trace, a massive blanket made from thousands of hand-formed river-clay beads).

    HEAT, which opened alongside a wide-ranging exhibition of new work by Mélanie Rocan last month at Actual Contemporary, is an engaging showcase of three regional artists who exploit that potential to very different ends



    Zachari Logan, Root 1

    Zachari Logan loses himself in ornamentation – parts of himself, anyway. His Fountain 1 is a teeming birdbath-cum-mushroom cloud of white ceramic floral motifs, while Root 1, the initially unassuming though beautifully sculpted and painted ceramic weed, reveals a startling root system on second glance.

    Osvaldo Yero’s incisive mashups of kitsch objects help to resolve (or at least to visualize) the unsettled syncretism of post-colonial identity. In Untitled (Duelo) (Spanish for “duel,” though it can refer to grief or pain), Jesus and a cross-armed “Indian chief” turn their backs on one another, in the process slipping their individual iconic functions to form a new if unwitting hybrid. A similar but altogether more surreal fusion occurs in The End, an Arcimboldesque assemblage of found figurines that coalesce into the slouching form of Frederic Remington’s End of the Trail.

    Though rooted in formal experimentation and play, Grace Nickel’s work seamlessly integrates ancient and modern ceramic technologies. Her twisting Reconfigured – JDZ Column references natural forms, modernist sculpture, and traditional blue-and-white decorative motifs, while collaborations with her husband Michael Zajac exploit a photographic technique adapted in the early seventies to document Maya vase painting. Rollout photographs of Nickel’s richly-textured, abstractly botanical cylindrical reliefs are projected flat and transferred to porcelain tablets, effecting interesting slippages between image and object, ceramics, photography, and the suggestion of painting.

    HEAT runs through the end of the month, but it’s only one piece of an ongoing citywide celebration of ceramic work. In the coming weeks I plan to savour and slowly work my way through MUD, Hands, fire. Wheel Thrown. The Legacy of Canadian Studio Pottery, a lavishly stocked and staged trove of functional pieces at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art Gallery. The opening coincided with a three-day conference that, amidst keynote addresses and studio demonstrations, featured a delightful pop-up exhibition by students at a host of regional universities and colleges, as well as teaching staff, studio techs, and conference participants – a format that underscored the community atmosphere that emerges through the shared facilities, enthusiasm, and expertise.


    Actual Contemporary: http://www.actualgallery.ca/exhibitions/2015/9/5/heat-1
    HEAT continues until October 31.


    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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  • 10/06/15--06:37: Nuit Blanche, Toronto
  • Ten years ago this past weekend, the citizens of Toronto were transformed as they wandered along a path temporarily bound in artificial fog and forever flipped the script on what was possible with a contemporary art exhibition. Suddenly it was possible to draw one hundred thousand people to engage with some of the weirdest and wildest work around (marathon tennis matches? dancing police officers? boxes to scream in?) in the darkest night and scattered to the far-flung corners of downtown. The tradition continues and after four hours of biking around through crowds and against gale-force winds on Saturday, I’ve come up with some pointers for future artists to achieve Nuit Blanche success.



    Heather and Ivan Morrison, The Cleaving

    1. Go big or go home.

    Heather and Ivan Morrison hit it out of the park with a work that couldn't have happened at any other time and in any other context. Their massive pile of timber fit the scale of the night, sat in the middle of the street, was clear evidence of labour (always endearing for the masses), and touched on art historical references (like environmental art and Minimalist piles of stuff, not to mention the long history of trees represented in painting and photography) that pleased the art snobs like me.



    Anandam Dancetheatre, Glaciology

    2. Keep it outside.

    The biggest frustration with Nuit Blanche – particularly for those of us inclined to experiencing art on their lonesome – is the prevalence of lines that form at indoor venues. I’ve come to regard these exhibits as not in the spirit of the evening. If I want to go inside a gallery or see something that could easily be programmed in a standard gallery setting, then I have the rest of the year for that. If I want to see a bunch of people rolling down the street in a choreographed approximation of a glacier, then I will make the effort to stay up all night to do so.



    Amalia Pica, noissecorp

    3. Keep it simple.

    The biggest disappointment of the evening was making it over to Allen Gardens only to find out that Alfredo Jaar’s installation was shut down due to technical difficulties. There are no second chances at Nuit Blanche and complication just leads to frustration, so points are awarded for adaptability (such as Jon Sasaki moving his work inside because of the wind) and simplicity (which is not to say simplistic). Amalia Pica’s backwards marchers circling Queen’s Park created a vortex of evocation from the most basic of human endeavours. I hope random passersby joined in through the night and the remaining participants held on until sunrise.



    Robert Wysocki, Lava Field No. 2

    4. It’s about time.

    While I’ve only ever had the energy to do it once, there is the possibility of revisiting different works at different times throughout the night. I was tempted to make it back to Queens Quay to see the final outcome of Robert Wysocki’s smelter-created pool of lava, but exhaustion got the better of me. For those who make the long haul, I imagine that the delirium of the last hour is somewhat transcendent (or maybe I’m romanticizing things).



    JR, Inside Out

    5. Do it for the people.

    Tania Bruguera’s voting booth at the base of Queen’s Park met the masses head on and used Nuit Blanche as an opportunity to reflect on the mass movements of immigrants and refugees around the world. It was timely and participatory and took people out of themselves. The location only added to the experience. JR, on the other hand, the artist who for some reason was selected as the exclusive feature of the city core, did everything I’ve said artists need to do and still came off flat. The endless array of selfies generated by his travelling photo-booths was a far too literal reflection of what anyone with a pair of eyes could see any day on the streets of Toronto. They played on the same narcissism that has become rampant in the age of social media. And they pandered to populism in a way that most everything else resisted. For all these reasons, I doubt they’ll be remembered, and with Nuit Blanche, all that remains are the memories.


    Scotiabank Nuit Blanche: http://www.scotiabanknuitblanche.ca/


    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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    I rarely cry in art galleries. Pretty well never. But I choked up in Abbas Akhavan's exhibition at Mercer Union on Saturday as I sat in the back room watching his video Ghost. The sound of it caught me first, as I wandered through the main space among Study for a Monument, his ever-growing tribute in bronze to lost gardens. Voices laughing or crying, it wasn't always clear, wailing in distress or yelping with joy, filled the air. I tried to concentrate on the metal vegetation splayed across the floor. It looked like human remains after a fire, laid out on white sheets for the forensic team to examine. They could be bones, coal blackened spinal columns stripped of all flesh. Or they could be hand-hewn tools dug up by archeologists, remnants of a blaze long buried and forgotten.



    Abbas Akhavan, Study for a Monument, 2013-present, cast bronze, white cotton sheets (photo: Toni Hafkenscheid)

    They are plants from the area around what is now Iraq, but was once the fabled Garden of Babylon. They are sculpted by hand and then molded in bronze in a purposefully slipshod manner that traps all the errors and idiosyncrasies of the medium. Dirty and charred, stained by verdigris, sooty, chipped and born broken. The artist is drawn to the garden as a contested space where nature is used, often deceptively, as a means of exclusion. His monument is already a ruin. It strikes me as symptomatic of an apocalyptic tendency, not just in art, but in the general spirit of the times. The end is not near. It is here. Be it environmental, financial, social, or political, the die is cast and all we can do is kneel down among the debris.

    Akhavan provides an out though. Follow the voices in distress to the back room and you’ll find, as I did, a modest video projection tucked into the corner. It’s a loop of videos, probably culled from YouTube, of soldiers returning home to surprise their families – usually mothers or wives, but also dogs, dads, and children. There isn’t a lot of talking before the big reveal and then, after a moment of stunned silence, a burst of emotion – love, pain, fear, joy, anger, sadness – all mixed up together. Every scene strikes close to home. I’m in that middle turf between aging parents and young children, struggling with the emotional demands of both, so I feel it from both sides. I sit quietly as the video keeps stringing together episodes and hope no one comes around the corner to shatter my moment. I’m overcome by a feeling that’s not joy or sadness, but a combination of the two where the former is inextricably tied to the latter, where love can’t escape the knowledge of loss, where everything is temporary and that makes the joy more joyful and the sadness sadder. That, in the end, is what it means to be human.

    Note: Abbas Akhavan is giving an artist talk at Mercer Union this Wednesday (October 14) at 7pm.


    Mercer Union: http://www.mercerunion.org/
    Abbas Akhavan: variations on a garden continues until October 31.


    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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    Consisting of less than dozen works, the Geneviève Cadieux retrospective at Musée de Joliette is like a visual haiku of her practice. Carefully honed and articulated by curator Vincent Bonin in collaboration with the artist, this concise exhibition of one of Quebec’s best-known contemporary artists also launches the newly renovated art gallery.



    Geneviève Cadieux, Ravissement, 1985

    The lengthily titled Here you may see the best portrait that, later, I was able to make of him. Passages into abstraction elegantly traces Cadieux’s practice over the last thirty years as it shifts between figuration and abstraction. The most interesting discovery in the exhibition for me was a two-room installation from 1985 entitled Ravissement. The work – including the size and shape of the rooms – is meticulously reconstructed based on its first presentation. One room is a black box where an early 20th Century image of two naked women, standing with linked arms, is projected onto the wall. The exterior room features a portrait of a young woman and an older woman, and a collage. The work is intimate, touching, beautiful, and strangely current, despite it being thirty years old with some of the imagery from over one hundred years ago. These descriptors, though, can be applied to the entire exhibition as the works chosen highlight the most compelling aspects of Cadieux’s practice.

    This exhibition provides a strong lead-in for the new and improved Musée de Joliette. Also worth checking out is the re-hang of the Museum’s collection, which mixes contemporary art with the religious-based work that underpins their collection.


    Musée de Joliette: http://www.museejoliette.org/en/expositions/passages-to-abstraction/
    Geneviève Cadieux, Here you may see the best portrait that, later, I was able to make of him. Passages into abstraction. continues until January 3.


    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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    Small tendrils of pastel colors shudder in the wake of someone breezing through the Corridor Gallery at Visual Arts Nova Scotia. Kyle Alden MartensStudies of Intercourse and Water is an installation of hundreds of slips of thin silicone cut from swim caps. They are stuck to the wall of the gallery, suspended like a cascade of confetti ticker tape that has been frozen in time. Hung there, shivering at the slightest wind.



    Kyle Alden Martens, Studies of Intercourse and Water, 2015, silicone swimming caps, white tape (photo: Joel Tsui)

    The skin-like material in shades of pink, blue, and white hangs limp in the perpetual dry/wet that silicone allows. They queer this enclosed thoroughfare, drawing thoughts of sex toys and awkward hesitations to mind. They speak of athletic swim spaces – spaces rich with homoeroticism and yet heavy with the exclusion of queer bodies. Martens has cut away from his experiences in athletic spaces. He has dissected their imagery to create this installation and presented his dissection in the safe place of the gallery. The strange subtle movements of the silicone strips invite you to take comfort in the uncomfortable. Their frozen suspension in the air celebrates a moment of hesitation. A breath held in anticipation. A breath taken before you jump in over your head.


    Corridor Gallery: http://www.visualarts.ns.ca/category/exhibitions/corridor-gallery-exhibitions/
    Kyle Martens: Studies of Intercourse and Water continues until October 28.


    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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    Regional biases in Canadian art never cease to amaze me. Say what you will about the pitfalls or benefits of regionalism, it continues to surprise me that every time I move to new city I am introduced to a range of important, influential senior artists. Katie Ohe is one of these artists: a pioneering abstract sculptor who has lived and worked in Calgary for most of her nearly sixty-year career. She has been exhibiting internationally since 1960 and, having started in 1970, still teaches at ACAD.



    Katie Ohe, Chuckles, 2015, steel, stainless steel

    At Herringer Kiss Gallery, Ohe presents a range of works from the last thirty or so years in what is remarkably (almost unbelievably) her first exhibition in a commercial space. Ohe’s oeuvre is beyond the scope of this little blurb, but of the varied works exhibited most were sculptural and made of steel – a primary material in her practice and forged her own hands. What struck me most was the intense physicality of her work, not only how the body is clearly implicated in the making, but the way in which the viewer’s body is encouraged (subtly and strongly) to respond. Her wall-hung sculptural works posses a human scale and resonance that is hard to articulate – their armature-like forms somehow related to the skeleton we each posses. A brand new work endearingly titled Chuckles encourages views to press on floor-based orbs to elicit a response from a coiled steel spring resting below.

    Ethos, Now and Then demonstrates that Ohe has an incredible depth and breadth of practice, and her teaching record alone makes her perhaps the most influential artist in Alberta. This modest commercial exhibition raises some questions. Where’s the travelling museum retrospective? Where’s the catalogue raisonné? Ohe is a regional treasure and deserves to be recognized as such.


    Herringer Kiss Gallery: http://www.herringerkissgallery.com/
    Katie Ohe: Ethos, Now and Then continues until November 14.


    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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    The layers of artifice at the Ryerson Image Centre’s current exhibition are so thick, you could stab them with a butcher knife. They start with the perp himself. Born in what is now the Ukraine but raised on the scum-strewn streets of the Big Apple. He became the signature photographer of its rotten core. His name? Arthur Fellig. But he’ll be known forever and always as Weegee or Weegee the Famous, as he referred to himself. Well before another New York artist (Warhol the Famous) turned self-creation into a self-conscious thing, this guy was busy making self-portraits of himself done up in police dick drag, chomping cigars, and wielding his camera like a .45 service revolver. That is, he did it between all night scavenger hunts around Manhattan to be first on the scene to shoot the bleeding that would be leading the next day’s tabloids.



    Weegee, Charles Sodokoff and Arthur Webber using their top hats to hide their faces, New York, 1942, gelatin silver print

    However, that might overstate the amount of grue on view. Other than a couple post-plugging face planted ex-criminal types, the real subjects of these carefully calibrated scenarios (the onion of artifice peels off some more skin) are the cops and bystanders – a Greek chorus done up like the cast of Newsies – who display a suitably theatrical range of responses both comic and tragic. Furthermore, the exhibition title deceives – just as every photograph deceives – because it doesn’t tell the whole story. Included in this compact survey are classic images of Coney Island beach crowds and non-murderous drama along with the pulpy presses in which they appeared. If anything, photography was Weegee’s business and by the looks of his apartment, that’s all he did.



    Weegee, installation view of Weegee: Murder is My Business at the Photo League, New York, 1941, gelatin silver print

    However again, it wasn’t all he did and herein lies another layer of artifice and the appeal he continues to have for filmmakers (from The Naked City in 1948 through to Nightcrawler in 2014), photographers (such as Stan Douglas), and assorted gutter tourists. The man himself realized his work’s potential and hooked up with the Photo League, a group of documentary photographers dedicated to representing the unacknowledged parts of the city, to exhibit his images in a gallery context. His displays at their space look like a high school civics projects gone wrong, but they provide the final piece of the puzzle that remains of the man with one name who turned his eye on the night and taught us to look at ourselves with voyeuristic glee.


    Ryerson Image Centre: http://ryerson.ca/ric/index.html
    Weegee: Murder is My Business continues to December 13.


    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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    An exhibition’s material list is its subterranean vocabulary. Some lists are a little lackluster, quoting only “mixed media,” while others are obvious simply by looking at the work. In [ ], Lisa Radon’s exhibition currently at Artspeak, she lists materials like caramel stone, callianax biplicata, achillea millefolium seeds, rosmarius officinalis, Singing Rock climbing sling, and heron eyeball. It comes as no surprise then that the artist also practices as a poet. She sublimates most of the listed flora into coy assemblages like Flat Cairn, Pierced, and Sling, wherein you might find yourself alternating between the material list and the sculpture, asking yourself, “Where is it?” followed by, “Maybe that’s it.” Though the materials’ linguistic complexity conjures a plant’s primordial nomenclature, her sculptures are otherwise sparse and mild mannered.



    Lisa Radon, [ ], 2015, installation view

    The aesthetically serious obelisk vibe of her white oak sculptures Square Bracket and Post Sentinel, as well as a single piece of white thread that hangs straight down from the ceiling entitled Sediment, could be asking too much for the suspension of more complex material appetites. However, works like Negative Ion Generation and Pocket Pocket, which is a recessed shrine with a puffy white frame containing a slab of caramel stone and tiny gold nugget, suggest fixtures for a future New Age (New-New Age?) rock garden. They articulate our delicate relationships with natural elements – relationships that we are always seeking naively to repair by trying to reconcile outside with inside.

    While quotation marks often read metaphorically as sarcastic or condescending, Radon contends that square brackets exude a sensitive robustness. As stated in her exhibition text, “The square bracket as a butch version of the crone. As coastline. As standing stone. As sentinel.” Metaphors abound, yet the sculptures don’t settle comfortably for a merely poetic reading. The bashful presence of such verbosely presented materials clearly has emphasis on being read, and not necessarily seen, leaving the viewers with nothing short of the aura of a material tease.


    Artspeak: http://artspeak.ca/
    Lisa Radon: [ ] continues until October 31.


    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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    Of all the artists in Toronto of his generation, Paul P. would have been my last guess to eventually go multimedia. His delicate watercolours, ink drawings, and oil paintings of beautiful and perhaps doomed young men seemed the be-all and end-all of his oeuvre (which is not to say it didn’t get taken up by other artists such as Kris Knight and an unnamed adolescent from a high school art show I browsed last year). However, his new exhibition at Scrap Metal Gallery– his first local solo appearance in almost a decade – is a reminder that he was barely out of his twenties when we last saw him and an admonition that the underlying concerns in his work can manifest themselves in different forms.



    Paul P., Civilization Coordinates, 2015, installation view (courtesy: Paul P. & Scrap Metal)

    That said, don’t visit the gallery and expect video installations and computer terminals from this artist of the old school. Rather than fetishizing technology, he crosses disciplines in a manner akin to the predecessors with which he finds a “consanguinity of temperament” (his words from his insightful exhibition text) and expands his practice into the fields of furniture design and rug making. There remain a couple oil paintings of the inscrutable portraits with which we are familiar, but these serve only as a gateway to more elliptical evocations of place before ending up in abstraction and a striking monochrome in blue. The two patterned rugs laid out on low plinths are equally hard to place and allude less to any particular content and more to a distinct sensibility.



    Paul P., Untitled, 2015, oil on linen (courtesy: Paul P. & Scrap Metal)

    That sensibility is distilled in the finely crafted furniture that is far too fragile for its functional purposes and instead stands in for the figures it is dedicated to – most notably the wartime English novelist Nancy Mitford. She is the key to P.’s shift from a post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS heyday of gay culture to the post-WWI, pre-WWII artistic renaissance in Europe. To complete this historical portrait, he has also designed mahogany shelves for the gallery and stocked them with a selection of books by or sympathetic to the writers and artists who’ve inspired him.

    In the absence of a library to house the things he’s built and linger over the literature he’s absorbed, I dove deep into the internet and lost myself in literary figures previous unknown to me. If there is any recourse to new media in this work, it’s the gift of the world wide web to bring to light the mislaid eras and forgotten artists who have fallen out of fashion and out of print but are newly retrievable via the wonder of our generation’s wireless and the ease with which it brings all history to the present. In an interview from 2007, P. says, “I try to avoid nostalgia,” and despite the unlikeliness of this coming from an artist so tied to the past, I think he’s sincere and that’s what makes this work contemporary.


    Scrap Metal Gallery: http://www.scrapmetalgallery.com/
    Paul P.: Civilization Coordinates continues until February 13.


    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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    I made it to Andrea Roberts' The Yolk of Menial Light a week after it opened at aceartinc., but I can’t shake the feeling that I didn’t make it in time. In time for what I couldn’t tell you, mind. An encampment of provisional structures squat in the gallery’s darkened back half. Nearest the entrance, an amplifier sinks into the carpet of a stage-like platform, while a second sits some distance away, roughly swaddled in plastic sheets. A makeshift teleprompter mutters lines to no one in particular while soft lights and a droning soundscape hesitantly bridge the intervening space. A brighter, yellow light beckons toward a rear wall, its source obscured by a signboard made from Coroplast and two-by-fours. Rounding the corner, a lightbox like a bodega sign or beacon reads “SUFFER ANY WRONG THAT CAN BE DONE YOU RATHER THAN COME HERE.” Abandon hope; look ye mighty and so on – a dire warning, too little, too late.



    Andrea Roberts, The Yolk of Menial Light

    Some trauma is inescapable here, but it’s never named. We arrive on the scene in the moments after a basement show gone bad, maybe, or a press conference cut off mid-broadcast. We’re left to reorganize our expectations, unsure of how to proceed, where to run, or whether we’ve been cast as the aggressors or aggrieved.

    With stilted grammar and odd substitutions recalling drunk texts or faulty machine translation, the teleprompter conflates different public apologies. Fragments are traceable to Tiger Woods’s 2010 post-infidelity-and-car-crash mea culpa, while others seemingly allude to lip-syncing, drug binges, stolen sexts, and the subprime mortgage crisis. The title of another component name-checks an experimental treatment for PTSD. Linking these is the unresolved question of “saving face,” of how, through various kinds of performance (private and painful, scripted and televised), one might repair the damage done to one’s self image, self-inflicted or otherwise.

    Red, green, and blue-tinted “trouble lights” bleed into one another across one wall; a sour face – lips pursed, nose scrunched, frown lines furrowed – dissolves into blown-up halftone patterns. Whether “healing” is possible in the fragmented image-world we occupy is left an open question. It might be too late, but the stage, forbidding as it is in its abandoned state, is set.


    Aceartinc.: http://www.aceart.org/the-yolk-of-menial-light-andrea-roberts
    Andrea Roberts: The Yolk of Menial Light continues until December 1.


    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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    We arrive just in time and push into the Art Gallery Of Nova Scotia crowd listening to the speeches and jovial preamble leading to the moment we are all waiting for. Finely dressed representatives of our national community of arts and culture are packed closely together to hear the announcement of the 2015 Sobey Art Award winner. However, even being on the short list is a prize for each of the five artists represented in the gallery just downstairs from the reception space. They are all being recognized for their achievements and the value of their work to Canadian culture. Together they represent a cross section of contemporary Canadian art.



    Lisa Lipton, Ballay Bay, Chapter VIII – The Impossible Blue Rose, Woody Point, Gros Morne, NL, 2014, mixed media installation and site-specific performance involving costuming, painted walls, rocks and found objects, wood burnt branches, lighting, stationary designs, video, music (photo: Tom Cochrane)

    Lisa Lipton’s Graysville is a self-referential, popular culture creep show geared to stimulate all the senses. The artist is the Atlantic representative for the award and a local Halifax heavy hitter who never fails to set a stage; every detail is considered and the viewer's interaction is always integral to the work. Viewing it over time means falling into an ever-unfolding narrative – a mystery that begs to be solved and a dystopian paradise that you can’t look away from.

    Sarah Anne Johnson pulls me in the most with her work. Her constructed Hospital Hallway confines the viewer to safe space in which to confront discomfort in body and identity. One enters the work by closing the door behind them before passing screen after screen showing video footage of the artist moving through the same hallway space shuddering, dragging, and convulsing her body against the walls. The videos are deeply affecting and the space further personalizes the experience for the viewer.

    In the end, Abbas Akhavan receives the prestigious award – an honor that means a great financial support for his work as well as national recognition. His installation Fatigues is dotted throughout the gallery and is comprised of beautiful carcasses of wild animals that were each killed by different acts of human interaction with nature – both intentional and unintentional. The works are unmarked and purposely placed at odds with the traditional exhibit format. Here a deer is found in an unlit corner, there a bird seems to have fallen against a wall. Neither enshrined, but both deeply precious.


    Art Gallery of Nova Scotia Halifax: http://www.artgalleryofnovascotia.ca/
    The 2015 Sobey Art Award continues until January 3.


    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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    One of the challenges of being an art critic is that everyone expects you to write negative reviews, just as long as you don’t write about them. Being Canadians and all, our tendency to engage in full-fledged trashing (at least in print) is hampered by our innate politeness, the intimacy of the art community, the economics of funding, and the far-from-cutthroat congeniality of the scene. There are exceptions, but criticism is for the most part supportive and positive. The obvious danger here is that a lack of criticality makes the creative body flabby. As the coaches say, “No pain, no gain.” Which isn’t to say, “Get the hell out of my gym-slash-art gallery!” but to prod artists onward to greater health. As such, negative reviews or, as I liked to think of them, not-entirely-favourable reviews are just as valuable, if not more so, in contributing to the discourse around art. They are couched in an appreciation of the artist’s intents or efforts, but address where the work falls short or takes missteps. They are also a lot harder to write than your standard gushing praise, but here goes…



    An Te Liu

    Starting in the back room of Division Gallery’s currently running trio of solo shows, An Te Liu creates monuments to a spent past, but not the one the finished works imitate. The concrete suggests Brutalism and the non-representational shapes suggest Modernism, but the forms are real, functional things: the packing material that fills the space around the consumer electronics they protect. Rachel Whiteread is one touchstone (and maybe too close a comparison). James Carl is another who makes the disposable permanent. The heavy plinths on which the Brancusi towers and quasi-primitive figurines sit are part of a package that frames the non-art sources as art. It risks being reduced to its origins and left a one-liner – the works on paper are guiltier of this – but the heft of the artist’s materials imbue the squat sculptures with an effective authority.



    Patrick Coutu

    Patrick Coutu’s sculptures are pixelated plant life fabricated from tiny cubes of aluminum and bronze. The dense stacks of uniform units will intrigue anyone raised on Minecraft, but otherwise feel like scientific models representing objective states. Coutu's fragile wall-hung fabrics manage to transcend the obvious with their patterned but unpredictable array of uncountable threads tracing some sort of order beyond human perception. As a less direct but more poetic response to our super-mediated digital selves, they take the cake.

    Scott McFarland is wrestling with technology from a different century, doing his darndest to make something more out of photography. He adds lightboxes, cuts away sections of the image, and flickers the lights. He pairs epic panoramas with slow pans of the same scene on perpendicular video screens. He mounts seamlessly collaged photos of waspy cottagers tending a garden in front of a mirror that reflects a photo on the rear of the frame that depicts the same cottagers in the same garden at a different time. All these attempts to make a photograph not a photograph either obscure or detract from the photograph. While I’m not a purist by any means, I like my interventions to carry the work to unexpected places. Here they draw back the curtain on what’s already there.


    Division Gallery: http://www.galeriedivision.com/toronto/exhibitions
    An Te Liu, Patrick Coutu, & Scott McFarland continue until December 23.


    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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    Vancouver is currently hosting a perfect storm of its local art history. Jerry Pethick’s retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery and an exhibition of Gathie Falk at Equinox are both recently opened exhibitions, while BC Almanac(h) C-B at Presentation House Gallery has been up since late September. Rather than the lore of an individual artist, the history brought to light in this group exhibition is of collective production during the phenomenon of new media or multimedia in the sixties and seventies.



    BC Almanac(h) C-B, Gallery Exit Mural

    In 1970, the Stills Division of the National Film Board of Canada commissioned Jack Dale and Michael de Courcy to produce a series of photographic pamphlets, later collected and published as a book, which then served as the framework for a travelling exhibition. This remount of the original exhibition is considered a “3-D version of the book’s production,” but is much less of a dioramic treatment than an installation that simply reflects the sentiment of the book and the period in which it was produced. That is, it captures the love for indexical expressions and a propensity to excavate meaning between quotidian subjects under the liberated lens of experimental filmmaking and photography, accompanied by collage, drawing, and poetry.

    The problem with exhibitions based on books is when images or information compiled to be experienced on the page are expanded onto a wall, it feels more like a celebration of the book than a real attempt at transforming the image to a new viewing context. Dale and de Courcy must have known this; they seemed to have admitted it when they decided to simply deposit a heap of books in the middle of the installation, located within Gallery Exit Mural– a two-part mural suspended on an angle in the gallery. This work functions as a group portrait as it is a composite of the fifteen artists in project, depicted first from the front and then from behind, traversing a white imaginary space. This theatrical fixture and the room’s grey-scale paint job are considerations that fulfill the project’s promise as an exhibition and make it more than a gutted book on the wall.


    Presentation House Gallery: http://presentationhousegallery.org/
    BC Almanac(h) C-B continues until November 29.


    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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    I’d like to declare the death of the death of painting, just so we don’t have to have that debate every time an exhibition of emerging painters pops up. Curator Spencer Harrison introduces his take on the subject Why the @#&! do you paint?, now on display at the Gladstone Hotel, with the original epitaph for art on canvas (Paul Delaroche, 1839), but I’ll forgive him that (just like I’ll forgive him for some of the work included in this show) because he’s celebrating the making of paintings and not just the looking at them.



    Bogdan Luca, The Flag

    As per most group exhibitions assessing the collection is akin to throwing a basket of laundry against the wall to see what will stick. The inclusion of student work skews the results toward a familiar obviousness in intention, but the variety of approaches saves the day. Bogdan Luca’s landscape photograph of a painting in flight takes the curatorial conceit to its furthest limit, and in doing so sets the overall tone of playful innocence. A painting as straightforward as Tamara Kwapich’s idyllic Summer Day shares that sense but stands at the opposite end of the spectrum and succeeds through means as traditional as the selection of colours. Somewhere closer to Luca there are a bunch of artists clearly wrestling with the titular question in the age of digital reproduction – Tamara Thompson’s GIF series and Elizabeth Chan’s glitched pixellation being two examples. And then back towards Kwapich, you’ve got the ongoing battle with representing the real seen in Jean-Luc Lindsay’s modest portraits of insignificant scraps of garbage or Justin de Lima’s slightly more conceptual double-portrait of his grandfather.

    However you end up navigating the buffet table of products on display, the overarching ethos – as per the curatorial directive – is one of unextinquished fervor for the process of laying pigment on canvas. In the presence of all that life, who wants to dwell on the dead?



    Alec Sutherland, Reworn: Fair Isle Toque

    Not that there isn’t already enough to see in the painting exhibition (it’s crammed), but the top two floors of the hotel are simultaneously hosting Hard Twist, the venue’s annual textile art invitational, where the oddities outweigh the standard fare, so making the trip up the stairs is worth your while. The twists are as conceptual as they are methodological or literal. More than one artist exploits the secret shared history of crafted graphics and digital outputs (Dylan Fish’s punning Comment Thread 0001 is a particular favourite) while others, like Alec Sutherland’s nostalgic recreations, cross media to befuddle the line between representation and the real. Add to that the appropriated abject objects-as-artwork in Andrea Vander Kooij’s Mend Collection and you’ve got a micro-show within the show that serves as a reminder: wheels get reinvented in wonderful ways if you’re willing to look.


    The Gladstone Hotel: http://www.gladstonehotel.com/art/current-exhibitions/
    Why the @#&! do you paint? continues until December 6.
    Hard Twist 10: Memory continues until December 27.


    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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    Secret 8 continues to offer some of Calgary’s most interesting little exhibitions (including the impressive premier of four films by renowned UK artist Dick Jewell last summer) and Patrick Cruz’s Otherings is no exception. Curated by Jenn Jackson, this exhibition brings together a selection of the Filipino-Canadian artist’s crafty and genuinely strange paintings alongside small sculptural works. The installation functions as a whole because each 3D assemblage morphs into a painterly counterpoint that ultimately creates a screen-like visual immersion. Cruz’s project appears to be a critical recuperation of folk-art aesthetics and methodologies, evident through the works’ wild patterning, mussel shells (and other found objects) glue-gunned to canvas, and a particular super-saturated colour palate.



    Patrick Cruz, Otherings, 2015

    I am always curious why contemporary artists bother with paint, but Cruz’s visual propositions don’t require any justification. They are at once dependent upon and completely subverting the medium and practice of painting. His recent (like yesterday) winning of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition (congrats!) galvanises his position as a capital-P painter, but his previous work could be designated as of the “post-internet” variety. He has made an unusual shift from the digital world into hardcore materiality, but it serves him well in that he is a world-class magpie and an experienced image aggregator. This skill set allows Cruz to deftly combine disparate materials in this exhibition, including a lot of found images seemingly printed off in colour from the computer. I nearly missed one of my favourite parts of the exhibition on my first pass – a small staple-bound publication made of starkly presented found images related to human intervention and animals, such as a picture of a tortoise whose shell has grown to accommodate a plastic six-pack ring. The publication is equal parts amusing and horrifying as well as being a subtle but effective distillation of Otherings as a whole.


    Secret 8 Project Space: http://www.secreteight.ca/about/
    Patrick Cruz: Otherings continues until January 20.


    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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