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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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    Staggering into Gallery 1C03 out of the winter’s first real blast of “dangerous cold,” Methods of Preservation certainly feels like a refuge, but it’s an ambivalent oasis, however inviting. In her first proper solo exhibition, emerging photographer Ashley Gillanders pieces together a conservatory of simulated tropical houseplants – cut-out and curled two-sided inkjet prints of leaves and leaf fragments arranged like abstract bouquets, collapsing card towers, unruly thickets, forest debris, and scattered florist-shop trimmings. Sheltered under Plexiglas vitrines, the precariousness, incongruity, and artifice of those arrangements are unmistakable. (Speaking as another improbable transplant from the subtropics, it’s hard not to relate.)



    Ashley Gillanders, untitled (paper study #4), 2015, archival ink jet prints, mat board, Plexiglas

    Like any trompe l’oeil, the sculptures invite scrutiny – you notice the carefully but plainly hand-cut edges; there’s satisfaction in spotting identical leaves – but new associations establish themselves as illusion dies back. There are parallels to be found with the ikebana’s mannered naturalism or the reductive geometries of modernist sculpture. Taken as a medium-specific investigation, though, the work suggests (perhaps without contradiction) that photography is both a robust, evolving form and a rare orchid to be cultivated and conserved.

    Gillanders’s botanical imagery links Thomas Wedgwood’s unfixed 18th Century experiments (a few stray leaves may or may not survive) and William Henry Fox Talbot’s more durable “photogenic drawings” with Weston and Mapplethorpe’s sensual vegetable and floral still lifes, even as her hybrid process and its artifacts echo the uncanny potential of digital rendering and 3D texture mapping. The university setting and institutional display tactics highlight photography’s role in empiricist projects from botany to anthropology. Several sculptures loosely resemble foliated crowns and headdresses: isolated in their display cases, these perhaps unintentionally hint at the complicated cultural and ethical dimensions of “preservation.”

    Made in the last year (much of it in the past few months), the work signals new growth in the artist’s practice. Her earlier photographs had examined the uneasy collision of natural and manmade landscape features with alternately detached, curious, and nostalgic attention. Untethered somewhat from that gaze, the new, freestanding constructions invite us to consider each work from different angles, even as there’s little to distract us from their loveliness.


    Gallery 1C03: http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/art-gallery/programming/2015-16/ashley-gillanders-methods-of-preservation.html
    Ashley Gillanders: Methods of Preservation continues until February 20.
    Artist talk: February 2 at 3:30pm in Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg


    Steven Leyden Cochrane is an artist, writer, and educator based in Winnipeg, but he grew up in Florida. He is Akimbo’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed @svlc_ on Twitter.


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    Shortly after I started working in the art world, I came to the realization that what collectors get out of purchasing art isn’t simply ownership of the work but also access to the artist. For some high-end buyers in the art star market, the appeal might be proximity to celebrity or increased status, but for the more speculative types (like Herb and Dorothy) the added value comes in having a front row seat to the drama (tragic and comedic) of creation. Our fascination with artists goes back a long way; there’s a magic to how they create something out of nothing or something new out of all that’s old or simply reveal a different angle on what we thought we knew through and through. Their “process” is where that alchemy happens and if we get to witness it or enjoy a preview of it, we can share a bit in the pleasure of creation. In a sense, we can be a bit of an artist ourselves (kind of like getting a backstage pass to a rock concert except those generally reveal just how boring and mundane the life of a rock star really is).



    Diane Borsato

    For her current exhibition at Open Studio, the artist-run printmaking centre and exhibition space, Barbara Balfour has in part abdicated her role as artist to curate a two-volume collection gathering thirty artists within its pages under the title À la recherche (in search of practice-based research). Each of those participants contributed not an example of their finished work but some sort of document that they identified as forming the research that precedes the production of a work. Now Balfour, in her curatorial statement, frets a bit over the semantics of professionalism, art practice, and research (versus scholarship), but, speaking as someone who routinely gets lost in libraries in the name of “research,” I had no qualms about perusing these fragments for clues as to what they reveal.

    Diane Borsato contributes photos of houseplants while Marla Hlady supplies pages from her carefully penciled notebooks and Nestor Kruger adds in an array of circled dots with slight variations. If you're familiar with the artist, you might find the links to their work: some are more obvious than others. If you don't know their work, you’re left to imagine what it might be like or intrigued enough to find out. Derek Sullivan has excerpts from email communication while Ed Pien works from ghostly photographs and June Pak uses precise pen drawings.

    There is admittedly a voyeuristic aspect to the whole endeavor (guilty as charged) in addition to the familiar question as to where the work begins and ends when process is so much part of it. This self-reflective identity crisis is replicated in Balfour’s involvement as well: what is her work and how much claim does she have on being an author? She identifies as the curator, but she’s not assembling finished pieces. She’s leaving the content out of her control and producing a publication in an era when documents are increasingly dematerialized. The anomalies of her project add up to more than a magazine, but what is it?


    Open Studio: http://www.openstudio.on.ca/
    À la recherche (in search of practice-based research) curated by Barbara Balfour continues until February 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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    Hank Bull: Connexion, a survey of a life lived globally, sharing artistic experiences, is laid out in bright objects in the SMU Art Gallery. Sounds compete for attention, posters and framed images cover the walls, sculptural works are touchable and enticing. The vast array of visual and audio stimulation is bringing students in from around the campus. Clearly there is something special about this exhibition that breaks down common barriers to artwork.



    Hank Bull (and others from the Western Front), photograph from Vis-a-Vis, a performance by Canada Shadows, 1978 (photo: Kate Craig)

    There is a lively humor in the video works in particular and the way the collection is laid out challenges traditional forms of gallery display. Tables are decked out like overflowing workbenches and a mini-library is set up of the artist’s archives, welcoming all to sit and peruse. This tactic gives great insight into Bull’s process and invites viewers into his world no matter their artistic background.

    The collection includes almost every medium imaginable. Skilled collaborators created costumes and props that are presented as both sculptures in their own right as well as aspects of performances or video projects. Throughout, the imagery called on is rooted in a postmodern sense of a global artist collective – the kind of work that sought to pull down barriers and cross borders.

    This survey depicts Bull’s accomplishments by including pieces made by fellow artists as well as works created in collaboration. In this way it is both a retrospective and an archive of a personal collection. His life and work are about collaborating and cross-pollinating ideas by bringing international artists around the world to work together or present performances and exhibits to new audiences. He is a traveling personification of connection, a human version of the internet.


    SMU Art Gallery: http://www.smu.ca/campus-life/art-exhibitions.html
    Hank Bull: Connexion continues until March 20.


    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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  • 01/28/16--02:37: Showroom at The Art Museum
  • The year has started off with a bang for Toronto’s art scene with a new curator announced at The Power Plant, a new director hired at the AGO, potential regime change at MoCCA (soon to be MoCA?), and a new old player on the block with the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery and the University of Toronto Art Centre combining forces to form the ingeniously named Art Museum. Director Barbara Fischer and curator Sarah Robayo Sheridan made the strategically sound decision to launch their new directive with a group exhibition of local artists. It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve had one of these (except for Micah Lexier’s giant miniatures exhibition within his Power Plant exhibition), but the concerns remain the same: artists in Toronto are forever obsessed with space.



    Jeff Bierk

    You don’t have to be a Marxist to realize the economic roots of this interest. Any account of Toronto's recent history has to be about gentrification because development is all that has happened here since the eighties and the foot soldiers are artists. Truth be told, it's likely that most of the art in this exhibition will be forgotten, but the work the artists did to make neighbourhoods livable for young urban professionals is etched in the fabric of the city, is visible (for those with the memory) on any stroll along Queen West, and is measured by the ingenuity of real estate agents to give formerly forgotten enclaves new names like Brockton Village and Lower Junction. Corwyn Lund addresses this directly with a text on hoarding project that memorializes the former Abell building and the artists within, but for my money the ghostly pinhole camera pictures of long gone Liberty Village loft apartments by Adrian Blackwell capture the experience of urban creatives to a T. Representing opposite ends of the lifestyle spectrum, John Massey, on the one hand, assembles idealized interiors for the ruling class while Jeff Bierk, on the other, provides portraits of those displaced people who call the streets their home. The latter makes for a necessary anchor to the whimsy that too often taints art about modern life.



    VSVSVS

    But if you’re into whimsy, there is plenty to find in VSVSVS' Fred Flintstone workout centre with its wooden mouse-wheel running track and barbells slung with cinderblocks. Jon Sasaki's documentary about living with an airplane and Sandy Plotnikoff’s colour-coded hoodie portrait series will also make you smile. Lifestyle marketing is ostensibly the central theme of this exhibition and there’s certainly some product placement going on with Roula Partheniou’s replica stuff and Jimmy Limit’s commercially photographed things, but lifestyle as a more ethereal quality comes through in the mood of the work, be it Oliver Husain’s appropriation of atmospheric condo advertising or Olia Mishchenko’s dense drawing of the quasi-natural liminal space of ravines.

    As with all group shows of this size, there are any number of narratives that can be woven in between select works and the curator should be commended for including senior artists and older artwork amongst the crop of youngsters and their fresh creations. An awareness of the past has always been a defining characteristic of these two participating institutions – be it the historical exhibitions at UTAC or the surveys of mid-career artists at the Barnicke – and, for the university as well as the city and its artists, telling and revisiting these stories is the only way to move forward.


    The Art Museum: http://artmuseum.utoronto.ca/
    Showroom continues until March 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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    I am always interested when time-based artists have exhibitions at commercial galleries. Not that I find the idea of monetizing this type of art challenging (it has been done successfully for ages), I’m just genuinely curious as to what the work will look like in its new, saleable form.



    Diane Landry, Solo Knight III, 2014, bicycle wheels, plastic water bottles, mineral oil, LED, aluminum, motor, gear, ball bearing

    At Barbara Edwards Gallery, I found Diane Landry’s expansive kinetic sculpture and performative practice distilled into a tiny, yet multifaceted exhibition consisting of video works, photographs, and a stand-out kinetic sculpture. The last time Calgary saw Landry’s work was when it stole the show during Oh, Canada at the Esker Foundation with her dazzling room-sized installation of rotating wheels, flickering lights, and sifting sand sounds. I had a similarly dreamy ASMR-induced moment basking in her wall-mounted Solo Knight III, a bicycle wheel slowly turning, which caused small amounts of viscous liquid (mineral oil, it turns out) to drip and slosh around crystal clear rim-mounted water bottles. A 2015 Guggenheim Foundation fellow, Landry is the master of elevating common, even abject, found materials to the sublime, somehow with very little intervention. I caught myself marvelling at the contours of what I think could be a Gatorade bottle.

    This is also evident in two videos documenting performances that use the very thin packing plastic that is often found in shipping, handling, and storing art. In last year’s Parachute Series, the artist conducts a range of actions with the plastic, other objects, and the human form: great crinkled balloons take breath like disembodied lungs, small sculptures are manipulated by hand, and so on. Icebreaker from 2013 is a well-known work that includes Landry rowing to nowhere through great swaths of astoundingly evocative plastic wrap. However, the still images on display in the gallery leave something to be desired, so, at least in this instance, it is impossible to compete with the fourth dimension.


    Barbara Edwards Contemporary: http://www.becontemporary.com/calgary.php
    Diane Landry continues until February 27.


    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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    It's become somewhat of a cliché to refer to photography exhibitions as meditations on mortality, but after a month of so many prominent people dying it's difficult to wander the galleries of the Ryerson Image Centre and not see the inescapable passage of time all around you. The thing about photography and death is that they are both so particular. The person in a photograph is someone specific who had a life and a mind. The person who died is uniquely that person and when they go, things will never be the same. That's why death is so tragic. It's why we can easily absorb deaths in huge numbers, but a single figure, even one we don’t known in person, be it Alan Kurdi or David Bowie, shatters our world (at least for a moment). While the many famous musicians who’ve died of late have meant something to me to varying degrees, the passing of José Villanueva Talavera on the weekend affected me more than most. He wasn’t a rock star, but he was a bit of a minor local celebrity. As the gallery attendant at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art for over two decades, he was a familiar face who stood out from the recently graduated art students who usually sit in galleries. It’s a further tragedy of death that only by someone’s absence do you appreciate their presence, and now that I’ve read José’s obituary I finally recognize what an exemplar of dedication to the arts community he was.



    Spring Hurlbut, Airborne, 2008, video installation

    I can think of no better evocation of the concrete loss occasioned by the death of another than Spring Hurlbut's video currently on display at the RIC. Like many of my favourite works of art, it’s disarmingly simple in concept, but seemingly endless in interpretation. In a single slow-motion shot, the artist opens a container of the cremated remains of someone identified only by their first name. This happens half a dozen times and each time tendrils of dust lift into the air and disperse into the surrounding darkness. In that short span, my mind reels with thoughts from Plato’s eternal soul and Descartes mind/body problem to ghost stories and the point on the Leslie Street Spit where we (illegally) tossed my father’s ashes. It's not just the body that turns to dust, losing all form and sense of identity, floating away until the motes are spread so wide as to be indistinguishable from the surrounding air (and then possibly even inhaled by us); it is also the memory that floats free and loses shapes, so much so that over time we struggle to recall a face and perhaps only remember a gesture or expression.



    Wendy Snyder MacNeil, Stephanie and her Sisters, 1973, gelatin silver print

    The RIC’s survey exhibition of American photographer Wendy Snyder MacNeil's many portrait series is less elegiac than Hurlbut's raising of the dead, but in her efforts to imbue her medium with timelessness – by rephotographing photo album images or printing her portraits on vellum – she too wrestles with loss. However, when she isolates her subjects from all context like in a passport photo, they ironically become harder to identify and end up as faces in a crowd. She's much more effective when her relationship with the person she is shooting is revealed (as with her pictures of her husband) or when she keeps them in a familiar place (as with the far too few pictures from her series on the students at a school for children with special needs). I wanted to see more of these because they were about people in the world who would otherwise be forgotten. That's what a picture can do – keep someone alive.


    Ryerson Image Centre: http://www.ryerson.ca/ric/
    Spring Hurlbut: Airborne continues until April 10.
    Wendy Snyder MacNeil: The Light Inside continues until April 10.


    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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    My House at Presentation House Gallery brings together two major American artists – Mike Kelley and Ryan Trecartin– in a daring attempt to “trace a lineage” in American video art. However, it’s impossible to sufficiently describe the visual impact of the exhibition in the space given here since Kelley’s work is canonical and extremely dense in feeling and, as for Trecartin, suffice to say a friend of mine experienced her first panic attack during a screening of his work in a class lecture.



    Ryan Trecartin, Junior War, 2013, HD Video

    Trecartin’s films occupy the East and West Gallery and are presented in cinematic format, while Kelley’s work is screened on two TV sets and his feature length “musical” Day Is Done is projected in the middle of the completely lit Centre Gallery, making it feel marginalized in comparison. This curatorial privileging of Trecartin’s work may imply that the conditions for viewing it involve a bit more massaging – hence the generous breathing room and custom seating. Obese couches indicative of suburban home furnishings are provided to ease the watching of A Family Finds Entertainment and Junior War. In the latter movie, shot in his senior year of high school, the artist’s footage of fledgling substance abuse and young men beheading mailboxes at night is no less disturbing than his 2009 works Sibling Topics and K-CorealNC.K. In these, he presents a cast of white-faced “nations-as-corporations” conspiring to “merge” on a party bus, which actually makes the airplane seats given for the screening of it seem comfortable.

    It must be said that any lineage from Kelley to Trecartin is only ostensible. We have passed the peak historical moment for an utterly and overly cynical example of club kid affectation and wanton cultural misappropriation (of which Trecartin’s work is paradigmatic). As the pendulum swings back, Kelley’s fragile embodiment of the Banana Man as a flat, futile, and indecisive human being in a video that predates all the other works in the exhibition is more evocative now than the more recent images of an over-stimulated and superficially empowered millennial. In this sense, lineage is moot.

    Note: On March 1 at 7:30pm, there will be a screening of multiple videos from Kelley and Trecartin at DIM Cinema, The Cinematheque.


    Presentation House Gallery: http://presentationhousegallery.org/
    Mike Kelley & Ryan Trecartin: My House continues until March 16.


    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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    This year marks the 40th anniversary of the feminist artist-run centre La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, and kicking off the programming for 2016 is the exhibition Masthead by Andrea Carlson. The Minneapolis-based artist’s works on paper are a post-colonial mash-up of imagery – a “grand shipwreck” – critically exploring ideas around cultural assimilation and appropriation.



    Andrea Carlson, Sunshine on a Cannibal, 2015, mixed media on paper

    Working literally and metaphorically with the idea of shipwrecks, Carlson’s paintings and drawings depict the cultural signifiers of empire – notably the objects of national collections – as floating debris being swallowed and expelled by the sea. The most successful work in the exhibition is comprised of dozens of drawings that repeat almost like a film reel. The black, white, and grey images are each cinematic in their composition and create a psychedelic grid depicting an expanse of sea and shards of rock, along with First Nations objects and patterns, animals (swine and snakes), and European items from the colonial era. The words “Fed to Pigs” disappear into the horizon over and over again. This phrase has multiple references as a well-worn trope in fiction and cinema, a metaphor for cultural cannibalism, and the very real connection to the pig farm of serial killer Robert Pickton and the epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women. The work is ominous, destabilizing, and epic.

    The remainder of the works in the exhibition are thought-provoking and I appreciate Carlson’s technically accomplished drawing skills; however, the grid of separate sheets of paper begin to feel slightly gimmicky and distracting when not overtly tied to the imagery of a film reel. I left longing for the same fragmentary effect to be achieved differently, allowing the imagery more confidence.

    La Centrale’s tightly conceived anniversary programming follows on Carlson’s interest in cultural cannibalism. Its next exhibition, entitled Archives Cannibales, invites artists to be inspired by the printed ephemera the gallery has produced over the decades. Be sure to check it out!


    La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse: http://www.lacentrale.org/en
    Andrea Carlson: Masthead continues until March 4.


    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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    I had to choose between two painting exhibitions this week: one was all abstraction, the other was not. Given my predilection these days to think and write about art as a means to thinking and writing about other stuff, it should come as no surprise that I chose the latter. Based on the Koffler Gallery’s online burb about Howard Podeswa’s A Brief History, I knew I’d find a discursive springboard there; however, the one press image on their site had me hesitating at the possibility of a heavy-handed rehashing of your standard hell-on-earth tropes. Turns out I was half-right.



    Howard Podeswa, Heaven, 2015, oil on canvas (photo: Toni Hafkenscheid)

    The exhibition is itself just two paintings dramatically facing each other in a room within the room where studies of one of the main works form a perimeter. The paired works are titled Heaven and Hell, and they are of a size to match the ambitious subject matter. One is predominantly white with lots of little and medium-sized circles. They could be planets, particles, portholes, bullet holes, or bubbles holding or revealing largely unrelated worlds. The whole is unresolved and, except for some tiny figures walking away, the micro-scenes are all barren. This is Heaven and, to paraphrase The Talking Heads, nothing much happens here (which is a description, not a judgment).

    The other canvas holds a single giant black hole filled with obscure scenes of torment. Near the centre, police cars emerge through the night; around them masked, demonic figures corral shadowy masses. The irony of this binary is that you have to step back towards Heaven to get a better view of Hell and vice versa.



    Howard Podeswa, Study for Hell #3, 2013, oil on canvas (photo: Toni Hafkenscheid)

    I prefer to regard the light one. The dark one is too singular in its vision. It lacks ambiguity. Plus this Hell looks clichéd. Demons, skulls and scythes, bodies falling in caves with the usual interior design. The logic of this place feels fake, like a fairy tale constructed just to make you scared. The artist’s statement indicates he’s referencing past art on the same subject, but the real Hell could be cold, crisp and bureaucratic or (spoiler alert!) bright like the school stairs at the end of The Believer.

    Heaven, however, is more intriguing and inspired by astrophysics. When discussing divine metaphysics, Descartes never mentions Hell. He says there's God (which is more a dimension than a person) and then there’s nothing – not evil, but absence of perfection. But what about Heaven? It’s got something to do with infinity, and in the innumerable particles fading into the aether suggested by Podeswa’s canvas, it’s there in the gallery too.


    Koffler Gallery: http://kofflerarts.org/
    Howard Podeswa: A Brief History continues until March 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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    Erica Mendritzki has two shows up in Winnipeg right now (one closing Saturday), and I’m seeing doubles everywhere for this and other reasons. A consistent format – intimate in scale, portrait-oriented – links the whispered silverpoint and gouache drawings of Planned Parenthood at Actual Gallery to the sickly-hued and viscous easel paintings of Sinon, l’hiver/Snowed in and Felt Up at La Maison des Artistes. Both shows abound in repetitions and quotations. Half of that double-barreled title is a French gloss of Anne Carson’s English translation of a fragment from Sappho. Carefully copied images from art history (a Henry Moore reclining nude, a piece of a Rosemary Trockel installation, a cache of artifacts that might be ancient or Modernist) recur amidst repeated phrases. These echo across wintry, partly pictorial debris fields, dissipating into scratchy, slurring abstractions that map their own peculiar rhythms.



    Erica Mendritzki

    What does it mean to repeat oneself? At once emphatic and equivocal, Mendritzki’s tone is hard to parse and so impossible to police, and she wields the power of that ambiguity with greatest precision when the work feels most vulnerable. Embedded in quiet surfaces (soft and dry, itchy, sticky, frozen), the dissonance is palpable – disarming, affecting, and often darkly funny. Painted in tidy cursive German, “Bitte Bitte” might be pleading or obliging. “Let me talk to you man to man,” when coupled with Moore’s odalisque and repeated a dozen times, looks like a chalkboard penance but reads like a playground taunt. In an instant, Sorry, I’m not sure if you heard me, but turns to Did I fucking stutter?

    A face materializes in one canvas like a Bloody Mary, its drawn expression as much wiped away as painted on, captioned “MOTHER.” – the all-caps and full stop registering terror and teenage exasperation in equal measure. (I looked in the mirror one morning, and my mother’s face was staring back at me). When another painting babbles “our bodies, ourselves” in Ophelian singsong, the equivalence it implies comes hopelessly unglued.



    Erica Mendritzki

    What does it mean to articulate an image of oneself that was modeled by someone else? This split subjectivity – a double awareness, an out-of-body experience, a sense that one is neither alone nor entirely oneself – is a fault line running through Mendritzki’s work, a source of both its destabilizing mode of address and its deeply-held, carefully-articulated feminist ethics. All things aren’t equal, and, as most women know, reproduction usually entails both coupling and cleaving, an articulation and an abnegation of the self. Ripped from the headlines, the title Planned Parenthood invokes ongoing assaults on women’s bodily autonomy, among them official admonishments to consider themselves perpetually “pre-pregnant,” always “expecting.” At the same time, it tugs at other, private expectations, joyful if wound up with presentiments of loss.

    Mendritzki’s breathtaking accomplishment is to seamlessly interweave ruminations on motherhood (as it’s variously constructed) with an interrogation of the patriarchal canon of art history, which she pictures as a minefield, an archaeological site, and a violent, benumbing winter landscape. Canvas and paper suggest snow without picturing it, an obliterating whiteness that shows every stain. Anxious brushwork mimics Feely Touchy fingers of cold air that wriggle under layered clothing. In Snowed in and Felt Up, Mendritzki litters the floor with tiny found-object sculptures, tripping hazards like pipe-ends or garbage peeking out through the snow. We watch our step instinctively, as if for stray patches of ice, and then it happens anyway. She holds us suspended in that giddy, disembodied free-fall just long enough to anticipate – and then appreciate – the impact still to come.


    La Maison des artistes visuels francophones: http://maisondesartistes.mb.ca/expositions/2016/galerie-dart-contemporain/sinon-lhiver-snowed-and-felt
    Erica Mendritzki: Sinon l’hiver/Snowed in and Felt Up continues until February 20.

    Actual Gallery: http://www.actualgallery.ca/exhibitions/2016/1/22/gallery-3-planned-parenthood-by-erica-mendritzki
    Erica Mendritzki: Planned Parenthood continues until March 19.


    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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  • 02/18/16--04:30: Matt Donovan at Olga Korper
  • When I reviewed Matt Donovan's last exhibition at Olga Korper, I proclaimed his wall-hung Op Art sculptures a model of formalism despite his medium being Lego blocks. However, he’s thrown that theory off kilter by making his current exhibition all representational. To make matters worse, it’s all flat too. None of the three-dimensional shadow play of the previous work is here; all you get is a rehash of the pixilation of blown-up images that seem to be things from a distance, but turn into random dots up close. It's a long familiar optical effect that's been with us since Seurat and is most familiar in mass-reproduced newspaper photos or electronic media like TV screens and computer animation.



    Matt Donovan, Ants, 2015, Lego

    This trick can work with any image (Chuck Close has done it with portraits) and Donovan knows enough to choose content that reflects his self-awareness of the formal gesture he's playing on. Swarming insects serve as his metaphor for the visual field that is frozen and then expanded until the artifice of the image is revealed. From across the room they are ladybugs, ants and bees, but standing beside them, these works are of nothing. That's the funny unfunny thing about them. Once you get up close, they lose any sense of identity as you lose focus and there's nothing meaningful to be found there. Sure, the artist’s process is evident: he selected pictures then processed them then mapped them out according to a grid and then reassembled the grid. But unlike a painting where the artist’s hand is revealed at an intimate distance, where a next level of micro-detail comes into view, here proximity just leaves you cold. Dead cold. Inhumanly cold. Swarming insect cold.



    Matt Donovan, Ladybugs, 2015, Lego

    I'm not sure who would buy these things though I'm sure people buy them – perhaps a graphic design firm or a software company. You need a space big enough so the viewer can get far enough away (maybe that’s the underlying message: Stay far away!) Insects are the most machine-like creatures in the animal kingdom and they represent unthinking consumption and reproduction on a gigantic scale. It’s not what anyone (except Gordon Gecko) would call comforting. I can see one of them in a loft-condo opposite a flat screen TV mounted in symmetry, but I worry for the emotional well being of the person who lives there. I hope they understand the lie they've committed to. I think the artist gets it and I think, like all medicine, it's a bitter pill to swallow.


    Olga Korper Gallery: http://www.olgakorpergallery.com/
    Matt Donovan: Pixel in the Swarm continues until March 12.


    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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    Nearly every piece of writing I have read about Toronto-based artist Roula Partheniou’s practice makes reference to how disorienting a studio visit with the artist would be. What’s real? What’s fake?! I now understand the impulse. She is a progenitor of the hand-made readymade: everyday objects (think office supplies) carefully rendered by her own hand out of materials like wood, paint, and paper. The objects are then masterfully arranged in relation to each other and the exhibition space as a strangely familiar though disorienting installation.



    Roula Partheniou

    Despite the hook of studio material and mistaken identity, as I observed at Contemporary Calgary’s C2 space at City Hall, her objects are not exact replicas. They are more complex than simple props. These things somehow enter an object-oriented uncanny valley. The reproduction is what pulls you in initially, but, on closer inspection, it is just ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, off – leading you to consider painters’ tape, for example, in an entirely new way.

    It’s refreshing to see a solo survey exhibition of an artist dedicated to installation work, rather than the typical inclusion of this type of art into a group exhibition. Inventory is an interesting exhibition (originating from the University of Waterloo Art Gallery) in that it includes a number of different series from the last five years or so of Partheniou’s practice recapitulated within the C2 gallery. The smallish, oddly shaped space has a somewhat homogenizing effect on her various bodies of work, but the exhibition resonates most when it is in dialogue with the area it inhabits. The sheets of ubiquitous blue insulation foam installed on the mezzanine level create a detailed faux renovation scene, playing perfectly on the power of Partheniou’s conceptual mimicry, while winking at Contemporary Calgary’s ambitious plans for their new building.


    Contemporary Calgary: http://www.contemporarycalgary.com/whats-on/inventory-roula-partheniou
    Roula Partheniou: Inventory continues until March 27.


    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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    Soft voices sing forth from the media room at Dalhousie Art Gallery. The entirety of the space has been subjugated by a major exhibition on artist-run centers, and while Eyelevel holds most of the rooms, The Center For Art Tapes has taken over the zone that is best suited for projections. In it Will Robinson presents a curatorial project entitled Gleaning a Song: The Singing Voice as Artifact in Media Art that gathers together audio-centric video works culled from the CFAT archives. Staying true to a consistent overlap of music and visual art in his practice, Robinson searched the archives for instances of vocal song. The selected collection guides one through soft and tender introspection, looking inward, to ask questions about our place in the world while holding space for uplifting, for stillness, and for healing.



    Lisa Lipton, You can take my bicycle, 2011

    The sequence opens up with Emily Vey Duke and Cooper BattersbySongs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure, a warped and probing look at humanity. The strung together segments of this fourteen-minute video stage stories of addiction and violence with humorous vocals and cartoons. I am left unsure where the artists are situated within these first person narratives – what personal connection do they have to the tools they use to illicit vulnerability from their audience?

    Subsequent videos carry on seeking meaning in humanity as with Derek Charke, Janice Jackson, and Lukas Pearse‘s Oikos/Ecos, a presentation of headlines layered on statistics and cascading digital imagery. However, it isn’t until I reach Tom Sherman and Jan Pottie’s video that I start to feel the depth of warmth I eventually glean from Gleaning a Song. Their film Angie sings My Heart Will Go On is a warming and sincere single-shot documentation of an excellent karaoke solo. Following this sentiment, Lisa Lipton’s You can take my bicycle is a clear and crisp video of a beautiful choir – a trio of talented voices – that sings cherishing lyrics directly to the viewer. We are lead out of this caressing experience with the resonating audio of Lindsay DobbinsDrum Voices, which provides a reverberating and lasting final moment of meditation.


    Dalhousie Art Gallery: http://artgallery.dal.ca/exhibitions/index.html
    Gleaning a Song: The Singing Voice as Artifact in Media Art continues until March 6.


    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 was looking out of my office window, trying to gauge how heavy the rain was and how soaked I'd get if I ventured out in it. What had been snow was now drizzle and I stared at the empty space between me and a nearby building to focus on the rain as it flew by, searching to locate the individual drops mid-air. A couple hours later, moistened but not drenched, I found a parallel to that inquisitive squinting as I sat in Karilee Fuglem's tiny exhibition at the Toronto office of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, given that the images on the gallery's website of her current work reveal nothing except a lot of white space and a vague sense of lightweight material. The postcard promoting the exhibition is white lines on white. I don’t mean this as a criticism, but there isn’t much there.



    Karilee Fuglem, vie étendue (feelers), 2015-2016, polyester, nylon thread, steel wire, paper

    More so than most, Fuglem’s art happens in the space around it and the concrete material that ends up in the gallery is literally just a medium. The matter of her art is air and light, the movement of one and the reflection of the other. Much like my earlier attempts to discern atmospheric conditions, my efforts to see her work required weaving around it and looking at it from different angles. The main piece, vie étendue (feelers), has a lot in common with a rain shower and the verticals strips of Mylar glisten and disappear like so many water drops caught on film. The wires hovering over them together form a cloud, but could also be lightning rods or fragile twigs.

    Physical interpretations are boring though, so I searched for metaphysical truths in these ephemeral experiences. The stage light that turns on and off at long intervals marks the passage of time and the assembled strips resemble a gathering but not of anything material. Glinting light, wavering reflections, and unexpected shadows appear briefly and then sink back into twilight. The conditions of the work demand silence and deceleration. Each one works as a tool on the viewer, drawing them in, and then leaving them in quiet contemplation, not unlike the weather patterns that bring us back to the everyday.


    Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain: http://www.pfoac.com/Toronto/KF_2016_EN.html
    Karilee Fuglem: What I see each moment I’ve never seen before continues until February 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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    Seijun Suzuki’s films didn’t make any sense or money for Nikkatsu Studio. He was a program picture director there until 1967 and his job was to make primarily entertaining films based on the scripts and limited time the studio gave him. But to the chagrin of his bosses, Suzuki appeared to be making art films instead, full of characters with existential tendencies and an overall disregard for narrative and filmic convention.



    Seijun Suzuki, Youth of the Beast, 1963

    For the survey of his work currently screening at the Cinematheque, the first week illustrated his directorial demise at Nikkatsu. Tattooed Life was the first warning, Carmen from Kawachi got his budget slashed, Tokyo Drifter was the result of that budget cut, and Branded to Kill was his dismissal. The last two, produced with a smaller budget than his previous films, are cited as masterpieces.

    In interviews, he will tell you that he was just trying out new ideas and styles to entertain his audience. And though his superiors were not entertained, years later, directors Jim Jarmusch, Wong Kar-wai, and Quentin Tarantino were dialed right into the absurdity. In his films, space and time change abruptly with coarse editing (Suzuki purportedly did all his editing in a single day), wide angle shots of gangsters running after each other drag on, and his awkwardly choreographed gun fights and stand-offs sometimes have implausible physics. He approached making B-movie as a form with absolute freedom. “I guess that’s the strength of entertainment movies,” he is quoted as saying, “You can do anything you want to as long as those elements make the movie interesting.”

    And more interesting he did make them. Compared to recent blockbuster action films (“a man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and suffering from amnesia, before racing to elude assassins and regain his memory”), the plot to Seijun Suzuki’s masterpiece Branded to Kill stands out: “an assassin who gets turned on by the smell of cooking rice fails in his attempt to kill a victim (a butterfly lands on his gun), which turns him into a target.”

    But however whimsically he portrays conflict, his revenge film is ultimately a violent or vindictively driven concept, both physical and psychological. In Fighting Elegy, Suzuki presents vengeance as the work of misguided young men swayed by religion, politics, and masculine stereotypes. The expected sex and danger of an action film such as Gate of Flesh or Story of a Prostitute is not wanton in Suzuki’s films; instead, he uses them as access points to address post-war nationalism and the dangerous sense of duty and sexual repression symptomatic of it. Don’t let Suzuki’s bold composition and exciting violations of form distract from the substance smuggled into this typically vapid genre.


    The Cinematheque: http://www.thecinematheque.ca/
    Action and Anarchy: The films of Seijun Suzuki continues until March 12, 2016.


    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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    In a world where any number of high faultin’ concepts, from lifestyle marketing to decolonialism, can serve as a curatorial thesis, why would an exhibition inspired by commitment be a touchy subject? Part of the problem (and I mean that in the best possible way) is that the sentiment in question is not found within the paintings on display, but is implicit in the relations between them. The other part of the problem is that the sentiment is sentimental. And biographical. Thus psychological. And that is messy. Which is far from the feeling you get when you first walk into General Hardware’s six person/three pairings exhibition Pillow Talk (and it’s worth noting you only have two more days to take those first steps, if you haven’t already).



    Nicole Collins, 2016, two and one (detail), wax and pigment on canvas and panel

    When you first walk in, you might think, as I did, “Damn, I should have covered this the week of Valentine’s Day.” You might also develop an internal conflict from your fascination with the personal details of the artist-partners who’ve been brought (or kept?) together rubbing up against your standards of objective, artist-is-dead, it’s-all-about-the-work criticism. The whole idea of exhibiting artists who happen to be in a relationship seems somewhat arbitrary (like an exhibition of artists named Jennifer), so you distract yourself by looking at the individual paintings and enjoy them on their own merit, but you inevitably end up finding signs of something more.

    DaveandJenn’s collaborative work amuses, as it always does, because the process of making a painting through layers of resin is cool to look at, but the final image never stays with me. I wonder what a masterful abstractionist would do with this same technique and decide this duo’s work doesn’t fit the overall thesis because the artists are united in name and painting, so there’s nothing to discern about their relationship.

    Nicole Collins and Michael Davidson each contribute a couple canvases and, even with this small sample, you can see why they get along. Both lean to minimal palettes that could be summed up as black and white. Sure, there’s some variation, but the reduction of colour to basics amps up the formal aspects of the work, with his brushed swathes of paint making emphatic use of space, while her textured wax draws out comparisons to alligator hide and cellular structures. It’s my guess that she’s the more intense of the two, while he’s reserved and maybe a little repressed.



    Gina Rorai, Voice of the Island, 2014, oil on canvas

    Gina Rorai and David Urban have long been attached by name, but I’m more familiar with his work than hers, so I pay extra attention to the dreamy semi-landscapes rife with colour that fill her canvases. He shares her love of colour, but his self-aware abstractions, with every element in quotations, come off too intentional, while there’s a warmth and a humanness to hers that endears me even when I worry they lack an overall coherence. If I’ve learned anything after a decade or so of marriage, it’s the acceptance and appreciation of that sort of imperfection that is essential for a strong relationship.


    General Hardware: http://generalhardware.ca/
    Pillow Talk continues until March 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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  • 03/10/16--15:26: Colin Lyons at aceartinc.
  • A fixture of the artist-run circuit over the better part of a decade, Colin Lyons has consistently refined and expanded upon a distinctive complex of techniques and themes. He exploits and cleverly extends the manual, mechanical, and chemical processes of traditional printmaking, repurposing them to explore the diminished presence of industry in North America and our collective ambivalence toward architectural and technological relics of the recent past. Through tinkering permutations, he’s produced diverse but interrelated bodies of work that span sculpture, print, performance, something like Land Art, installation, and exhibition design. A Modern Cult of Monuments, his current show at aceartinc., lays out several of these overlapping frameworks, making for an engaging if somewhat dizzying first pass. However, as the processes at work unfold and the show’s mechanics come into focus, its complicated workings begin to feel inevitable – if hardly less impressive in their execution.



    Colin Lyons

    Parts of the show recall a factory floor, others a laboratory, museum gallery, showroom, or ruin. Thanks to Lyons’s unerring sense for sight-lines and symmetries, navigating it feels like a guided tour, with a number of carefully-staged, highly-specific gestures laid out for us in sequence.

    In clustered Perspex tanks filled with various solutions, reclaimed zinc and copper etching plates create a battery that helps electrochemically restore a salvaged metal object. In a neighbouring tank, an acid bath gradually turns a fabricated replica to heaps of slate-grey dust. Other cleaned-up found objects and artificially weathered duplicates face off in a purpose-built, double-sided wall vitrine. Corroded copies of obsolete machine parts (museum holdings, in this case) are laid out on a platform of stainless steel cubes. Close at hand, grids of photo-etchings show the objects in more flattering light, their tonal range and printing artifacts nostalgically echoing 19th Century tintypes.



    Colin Lyons

    In a video, Lyons uses a levigator to polish the foundations of a ruined sawmill six miles north of Kamloops, slowly and laboriously achieving a reflective, headstone-like finish. A ten-foot-long folded document assembles his research and correspondence about the “Six-Mile Mill,” a site sparsely attested in local records. Printed on newsprint with corrosive ink, we’re offered a fragmentary history designed to self-destruct. Other rocks – concrete rubble from restoration sites in Montreal and Cleveland – litter the gallery like fieldstones, their polished faces revealing fossil-like strata of aggregate materials.

    Born in Windsor, raised in Petrolia, and currently based in Hamilton, Lyons’s Rust Belt, go-labour sensibilities are clear, but how he conceives of his role as an artist is more ambiguous. There’s a heroic posture to the video, certainly: Lyons, larger than life in his apron and shirtsleeves, polishes his rocks while a freight train passes in the background. In fact, he engages equally in processes of documentation, preservation, destruction, and pastiche, uncovering compelling material in each approach.

    An engineer in his approach as much as a printmaker (or sculptor, or anything else), Lyons gives himself problems to solve. For all the clever artistic solutions he comes up with, though, and all the meticulous stage direction, when it comes to the exhibition’s biggest and most compelling questions, we’re left with enough space to work things out ourselves.


    Aceartinc.: http://www.aceart.org/colin-lyons-a-modern-cult-of-monuments
    Colin Lyons: A Modern Cult of Ruins continues until April 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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    Shane Krepakevich is an artist whose work isn’t a problem to be solved so much as it is an attempt to solve a problem. The question he’s concerned with is what to do with the image in the early 21st Century. Admittedly, this was a problem in the last century as well, but the impact of mechanical reproduction and then mass production and then electronic reproduction and then digital reproduction keeps pushing the answer past the purview of artists, leaving them desperate for something to call their own.

    A similar desperation has driven Juliana Zalucky – the owner of Zalucky Contemporary, where Krepakevich is currently showing – to stake her claim as the northwesternmost gallerist in Toronto. She’s blocks from the neighbourhood’s previous generation of settlers, neither of whom remain (Telephone Booth Gallery moved online and Narwhal Contemporary withdrew a smidgen to the east), because she resisted the lure of Dupont (newly minted home to a cluster of dealers) to occupy a storefront on a street where gentrification seems to be moving at a reasonable pace. Her challenge – the contemporary problem she must solve – is to survive the local economic upturn of which she will be a catalyst.



    Shane Krepakevich

    However, by choosing to exhibit challenging work in a neighbourhood that is no longer challenging, she risks being the architect of her own demise. But the future is unpredictable in an art scene that is increasingly dispersed, so we might as well concentrate on the art and leave the real estate speculation alone.

    As for the state of the image, Krepakevich advances some compelling proposals when he takes flat pictures into the realm of the sculptural. There are three pieces in particular wherein ostensibly significant photographs are obscured and overwhelmed by apparatuses that support them. The images are shots of computer monitors depicting ambiguous scenes from films further distorted by the light in the artist’s studio. There is no clear subject here (unless you’ve already guessed that surface is the subject), so our attention is drawn to the metallic frames and backing that lack content but resonate simply through their purposefulness. They ennoble the empty core. It’s here that Krepakevich’s work slides into the realm of design just as easily as any work of art disappears into décor.



    Shane Krepakevich

    What remains is professional in finish and void of content in the same way a black hole is void of light. The pursuit of a work that teeters on the precipice of insignificance is symptomatic of a younger generation of artists who don't want their art to be too much about anything. Their teachers wallowed in the personal, while they prefer post-conceptual austerity tied to formalism suspended in the deep freeze. It’s chilly and impersonal, which isn't a dis, though it might be a diagnosis. Then again, conceptualism is impersonal and so is a lot of Modernism. Like those movements, Krepakevich is divining the future (as opposed to dwelling on the past) and his calculations are carefully measured.


    Zalucky Contemporary: http://www.zaluckycontemporary.com/
    Shane Krepakevich: Lightweight continues until March 19.


    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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    In typical Cynthia Girard-Renard fashion, La revanche des Sans-culottes at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau is an exhibition brimming with joyful irreverence, humour, political awareness, and historical references. Filled with bright colours emanating from her signature naive-style paintings and a smattering of constructions involving puppets, it harkens to the set of a light-hearted theatre production for children, but of course Girard-Renard’s work goes far beyond these initial optics.



    Cynthia Girard-Renard, Sous les pavés, la plage, 2015, acrylic on unstretched cotton canvas

    The exhibition results from a residency Girard-Renard completed in Paris and it explores the cultural and political significance of the French Revolution in comparison to the current climate of economic disparity and austerity. “De 1789 à nos jours, et un peu plus tard….” is written in the corner of the strongest work in the exhibition: a large painting entitled Sous les pavés, la plage. The names of luxury brands such as Saint Laurent, Dior, and Cartier stare out from a canvas filled with symbolic caricatures from the French Revolution referencing Marie-Antoinette, her marriage, the Sans-culottes, etc. The canvas has been subtly imprinted with rose coloured cobble stones (a gentle reference to the Situationists and May 1968 as well as 1790s bloodshed) on which Girard-Renard’s cheeky caricatures sit solidly and luminously. The three-dimensional works in the gallery space – a scaffolding-like structure holding puppets and a rod holding three pairs of striped trousers in ascending sizes – reference the French tradition of bawdy burlesque theatre. Also included in the exhibition is a banner for Marie-Antoinette, one in a series of similar banners Girard has previously exhibited featuring quotes and images of luminaries such as Henry David Thoreau, Rosa Luxemburg, and Hannah Arendt. The exhibition as a whole taps into the enthusiasm of revolutionary moments, consumer culture, and childhood imagination, drawing thoughtful parallels, without taking itself too seriously.


    Galerie Hugues Charbonneau: http://huguescharbonneau.com/en/
    Cynthia Girard-Renard: La revanche des Sans-culottes continues until April 2.


    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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    Dalhousie Art Gallery opened its space up to the Centre for Art Tapes and Eyelevel back in January for a joint exploration of archiving in artist-run culture. Each center used this time to program two shows alongside a presentation of works from Eyelevel’s archive. Posters and other ephemera line the walls and the archive itself is installed behind a roped off area. The umbrella title for this programming is Why Are We Saving All These Artist Publications + Other Gallery Stuffs?Becky Welter-Nolan is the artist-in-residence who is using the rest of Eyelevel’s stay to delve into the archives in search of a response to this question.



    Becky Welter-Nolan, Revolution or Reinventing the Wheel (installation detail) 2016 (photo: Steve Farmer)

    Turning her eye to patterns in repeat programming and board discussions, Welter-Nolan has titled her work Revolutions or Reinventing the Wheel. Her research inspects the time and energy we expend discussing and acting on the same topics over and over, and it draws attention to the drain on limited human resources that plagues all organizations operating in the underfunded not-for-profit structure.

    The artist’s work offers up a place for rest while absorbing this research. Welter-Nolan has installed a bed for the duration of her residency, inviting us to draw a curtain around the nap space and crawl under a wool blanket. Speakers adjacent to the double bed wash audio over you while you rest your weary bones. A multitude of layered voices read minutes from Eyelevel’s board meetings to create a soothing white noise-scape to lull you. All of the selections read are discussions of Eyelevel’s many venue relocations. Talk of rent, landlords, accessibility, and funding repeat in the endless effort to best serve Halifax’s community in its long lifetime as an artist-run center and gallery. Eyelevel’s current status as spaceless as well as its occupation within Dalhousie drives home the poignancy of this repeating dialog.

    This dissection of how we serve our communities is especially exhausting in a town the size of Halifax where every artist is expected to be creator, curator, administrator, organizer, and volunteer. Our efforts, if put to scrutiny, are often deeply flawed and repetitive, and with resources being what they are it’s not surprising that what we all really need is a nap. So take your shoes off, crawl in, and rest. There’s a long way to go from here.


    Dalhousie Art Gallery: http://www.artgallery.dal.ca/
    Becky Welter-Nolan: Revolution or Reinventing the Wheel continues until April 17.


    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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