Top Six Fall Shows Across Canada

Top Six Fall Shows Across Canada
(Trevor Paglen, “Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center, Groom Lake, NV; Distance ~ 26 miles” (2008).)

Scanning the country’s fall exhibition programming, BLOUIN ARTINFO Canada notes a strong output from midsized museums like the Art Gallery of Alberta and Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, this season. However these offerings arrive as a dearth of courageous and fresh programming reveals itself at the country’s leading museums (including the Musee d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Art Gallery of Ontario, which present over-toured or over-hyped exhibitions, respectively). Picking up the slack, however, is Montreal’s Mois de la Photo à Montréal, from which we’ve selected two strong contenders among a spoil of photographic exhibitions. And Vancouver balances the national stage with a couple internationally lauded contemporary artists taking their first Canadian bow. Read on for our top six fall exhibitions.

Mois de la Photo

Various locations, Montreal

September 5 - October 5, 2013

                 Trevor Paglen

A rare opportunity to observe the work of favored American artist Trevor Paglen presents itself at Montreal’s SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art from September 7 to November 9. Paglen’s photographic work often turns skyward, whether imaging military drones or the celestial ever-after. Shifting between art, journalism, and science, Paglen continues to push the meaning of the contemporary in his timely, and often timeless, pursuit of transparency. – Sky Goodden

                Jon Rafman

As Jon Rafman’s star continues to rise, he turns from his irreverent internet-culling tactics to more abstracted and aesthetic means, and different media too. Renowned for photographic prints harvested from Google Street View, Rafman’s recent frame goes positioned on video games, now imaging a newly pop and narratively evocative subject. Rafman’s Canadian representative galerie antoine ertaskiran takes full advantage of Montreal's annual citywide immersion in photography, Mois de la Photo, with a depiction of an artist advancing. On view from August 28 - October 7. – Sky Goodden

The Intellection of Lady Spider House

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton

September 14, 2013 – January 12, 2014

In the wake of an exhaustive solo project at dOCUMENTA (13), Banff residencies, and a series of major exhibitions in the UK and Canada, Geoffrey Farmer was so tired it’s rumored he declined the invitation to represent Canada at the Venice Biennale. So it comes as little surprise that we see him resurface with something decidedly light. Curating and collaborating with “artists and friends” at Edmonton’s Art Gallery of Alberta, Farmer elicits his earliest memory of exhibition-making, a labyrinthian haunted house, and threads viewers through its web on foot. From otherworldy sculptor Valerie Blass to uncanny installation artist David Hoffos (with the likes of Hadley+Maxwell, Brian Jungen, and Gareth Moore between), “The Intellection of Lady Spider House” works from Farmer’s “often obsessive web-like process of collecting and reclassification of materials into idiosyncratic stystems,” but also extends to Edmonton’s contemporary history and environment. We worry this could err on the side of hokey exhibition-making, and carry too much of its appeal for being Farmer’s turn on the popular model of artist-as-curator – but hell, we’d go. It sounds like fun. – Sky Goodden

Jacob Whibley

Narwhal Projects, Toronto

September 7 - 29, 2013

A former member of collective Team Macho, Jacob Whibley has recently been pursuing a solo practice, with good returns. A favorite at recent fairs Pulse Miami and Montreal’s Papier 13, Whibley’s steadfast employment of collage – singularly comprised of archived materials, dating from the mid-1800s to the 1950s – suggests an homage to El Lissitzky and the Russian Constructivists, Bauhaus, and De Stijl. Particular and engrossing, the works explore the architecture of abstraction while exacting a form of modernist nostalgia. In this solo exhibition at the emerging Narwhal Projects, Whibley updates his catalogue and expands his media with a sound-art component. – Sky Goodden


Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

October 11, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Vancouver Art Gallery curator Diana Augaitis presents what is, surprisingly, the first retrospective for Korean-born, internationally based artist Kimsooja. Succeeding a steady sequence of shows, the 56 year-old Kimsooja focuses on the at times uneasy relationship between cultural and personal identity, often emersed in investigations into the forms and processes of nature. In perhaps her most striking piece, the video installation “A Needle Woman” (1999-2000), an 8-channel projection depicts the artist from behind, with her body center-frame. Shooting in eight different cities around the world, the camera catches the perplexed, unimpressed, annoyed, and occasionally angered reactions of passersby as they move around the immobile Kimsooja in crowded streets. Vacillating between the harrowing and the entrancing, “A Needle Woman” nicely represents Kimsooja’s intense focus and stillness in her oeuvre, from her cloth-based sculptures to more immersive installations. It’s something of a coup for the VAG, who joins the CAG this fall in making a case for the midsized Canadian museum. – Joseph Henry

Mike Nelson

Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver

September 14 – November 3, 2013

Known primarily for his darkly mammoth and fiercely intricate installation art, Britain’s Mike Nelson finally arrives to Canada with a series of new sculptural and photographic works. The Contemporary Art Gallery, working with the Power Plant and Banff’s Walter Phillips Gallery, presents Nelson’s first Canadian solo exhibition; here Nelson stages an imaginary cast of outlaws named the “Amnesiacs,” a familiar presence in Nelson’s work, from his early career up to a devotional 2006 installation titled “AMENSIAC SHRINE or douple coop replacement.” The Amensiacs directly inform the sculptural work at the CAG, with Nelson drawing on a visual imagery somewhere between “Mad Max” and a Robert Rauschenberg combine: tires, pumpkins, leather, a skeletal wooden fence, and other detritus in a huddled shack evoke the absent Amensiacs to summon a crime scene ambience akin to Nelson’s gargantuan and distressing 2000 installation “The Coral Reef.” An additional set of two-dimensional work at the CAG takes the form of projected 35mm slides shot by Nelson during a Western Canada roadtrip, meant to comment on the disputed category of “Canadian” land. The exhibition presents an opportunity to see Nelson move out of his usual exaggerated scale, and into decidedly smaller dimensions; it remains to be seen if he’ll be successful. – Joseph Henry


Eastern Bloc, Montreal

September 19 – October 16, 2013

Canadian artists Jennifer Chan and Jennifer Cherniack hearken back to the 1990s internet, to examine the refashioning of sex and gender relations at the source. Joining a contemporary generation of digital artists invested in Web 1.0, pre-DSL aesthetics, Chan and Cherniac use video, performance, textile, and text-based media to target heterosexual coupling dynamics from the nascent days of text messaging to the anonymous video chatroom, Chatroulette, all spun through a pop-feminist angle. “JENNIFER X JENNIFER” joins the gender-based interrogations of online sociality done recently by Canadians in theater and visual art, suggesting that in an era where the public sphere mostly exists online, an archaeological look at its dubious foundations could be all-pertinent. – Joseph Henry

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