Home » VoCA September 22, 2006

VoCA September 22, 2006


This week we recommend 5 art events in Toronto, 5 international exhibitions and the 5 artists shortlisted for Canada’s Sobey Art Prize.

But first…


The panel discussion at the Goethe Institute on The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach brought together philosopher Mark Kingwell, environmental phenomenologist Amy Lavender Harris, photographer Marcus Schubert, curator Rhonda Corvese and artist Iris Haeussler.

The exhibition, disguised as a “real” project by the City of Toronto’s municipal archives, took place inside a secluded house at 105 Robinson street which had been transformed into the setting of a fictious artist’s sculptural legacy. Memories of the early 20th century were painstakingly created by Haeussler, through a detailed reconstruction (including emphemera, clothing, food) of the art and artifacts of “Joseph Wagenbach’s” life.

Fortunate viewers were unaware of the greater artistic intent of the project. I had known about the project from the start, and I was familiar with Gregor Schneider’s Die Familie Schneider, a similar project organized by Artangel in London in 2004.

Imagine this: A painter creates a realistic but entirely fictional image of the home of an eccentric artist. The viewer enjoys the painting, without concern for whether it is an existing image or a figment of the painter’s imagination. It doesn’t matter either way, because of the distance between the viewer and the art work. Jakub Dolejs explores this idea in some of his work:

Caspar David Friedrich in Riesengebirge, 1810, (2003). Image: Angell Gallery

In The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach, the viewer is entirely immersed in the artwork. He is inside the painting (so to speak), or the “painting” has moved off the canvas and into the world. The world is our canvas as is continually demonstrated in contemporary art. Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s work is a great example. The following text is from their exhibition at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, 2005:

“You enter a room with a low ceiling and notice a set of stairs leading up. This stairwell is made of wood, lined with wallpaper reminiscent of an old American hotel. When you reach the top you arrive at a walkway above the frosted glass ceiling panels. Strange noises like that of an old industrial building mingle around you. As you continue along the walkway above the ceiling you see an opening in the glass. Looking into this opening your vision is thrust down a long shaft to a very small room at the bottom which seems to be far below. Your spatial understanding is confused since you know that you have just been on the floor below and that it is not possible to have a room there. A bed, a chair and a record player are the only things in this small room. From the record player comes the sound of a forgotten record which has got stuck.”

The panel discussion at the Goethe Institute touched on some important ideas:
How can one be affected by the shifts in perception brought about by a structured fiction? How important is the sense of discovery through touch in this type of conceptual art?
How does our experience of eccentricity in the city (real and invented) impact on the intervention between art and life? This type of art, noted Marcus Schubert, required “an intensity of involvement with one’s own personal narrative.”

Iris Haeussler’s website


1. LISA KLAPSTOCK’s installation at the York Quay Centre, Toronto:

York Quay

2. LUANNE MARTINEAU at Jessica Bradley Art & Projects:
Whether it’s a Philip Guston thumb or Woody Allen’s glasses knitted into her sculptures, Martineau manages to make textile work that looks as if pop cultural references have been put through a meat grinder.

Luanne Martineau, Portrait, 2006.

Luanne Martineau, The Painter, 2006.

Luanne Martineau, Figure, 2006.

Jessica Bradley Art & Projects

3. GUY MADDIN Brand Upon the Brain!
The perfect 1930s-styling contrasted with an over-the-top plot where characters die and come back to life, age and get younger and then age again. The film was silent, complimented by three foley artists at the side of the Elgin theatre stage, who created live sound effects from cellophane, buckets of water and celery among other things. There was also live narration and a castrato (!) The characters – a group of children including Guy, his sister and their friend – a desireable tomboy, reminded me of Enid Blyton’s book series The Famous Five, as did the setting (a lighthouse on a barren island) and the plot (the solving of a mystery).

Already on Wikipedia!

4. EVAN LEE at Monte Clark Gallery:

Evan Lee, Ginseng #28, 2005. Image: Monte Clark Gallery

Evan Lee, Ginseng #16, 2005. Image: Monte Clark Gallery

Lee’s newest works, small still-lifes made with a scanner using dollar-store merchandise, are so detailed they’re uncanny. Scroll to the last few images in his portfolio:

Evan Lee’s website

5. MAKE YOUR OWN LIFEat the Power Plant:
Coming from the ICA Pennsylvania, this exhibition looks at the significance of Cologne, Germany as a center for artistic production in the 1980’s and 90’s. Cologne’s “aura as a city of extreme self-consciousness and audacity” proved influential on the practices of those who were part of the scene.

Kim Gordon and Jutta Koether, Club in the Shadows, 2002. Image: Power Plant

Martin Kippenberger and Achim Schachtele in the Cafe Einstein, Berlin, 1979. Image: Power Plant

5 INTERNATIONAL EVENTS: A glance around the world

1. TOKYO – The Wrong Office
To September 23
From Cyril Duval, the conceptual artist who art directed and installed Bernard Wilhelm’s first Tokyo boutique, comes an art-related installation project for the re-launch of Tokion magazine in Japan. The installation re-creates, in a street-level vitrine, the office environment depicting “The life and work of a fashion director for Tokion magazine.” Blink and you’ll miss it.

Item Idem

2. GERMANY: LichtRouten
September 22 – October 1
In Ludenscheid, Germany, memorials and cemeteries throughout the city will be lit and artistic interventions involving light will occur throughout the city. The curators ask “What role does memento play in the public life of a city?” According to the curators, “the objective of this year’s edition of the LichtRouten is to study and thereby gain a holistic understanding of using historical and social information in the on-going process of city planning.”


3. LONDON-Serpentine Gallery/Battersea Power Station
From Oct 8 – 5 November
In its first large-scale, off-site exhibition project, the Serpentine Gallery will launch their series of exhibitions on contemporary Chinese art and architecture. China Power Station: Part 1 will fill three floors of the Battersea Power Station with sound, moving images and large-scale architectural installations.

Serpentine Gallery

4. ITALY: Venice Architecture Biennale
September 10 – 19 November
This year’s theme is Cities, Architecture and Society.

Pavilions of note:
-The Danish/Chinese Collaboration on sustainable urban development in China at the Danish pavilion
-Henning Larsen Tegnestue and Olafur Eliasson at the Icelandic pavilion
-Surrealist Architecture and the City’s Unconscious at the Japanese pavilion
-Bernard Tschumi at the Swiss pavilion
-After the Flood: Building on Higher Ground at the American pavilion
-And of course – Sweaterlodge at the Canadian pavilion

Venice Architecture Biennale

5. NEW YORK – Lucio Fontana at the Guggenheim
October 10 – January 21
Fontana, the artist famous for slashing canvases in the 1940s, worked in both Venice and New York. Each city’s influence on his work is evident in the shimmering gold paint of his Venice works contrasted with the New York works scratched aluminum surfaces.

The Guggenheim


This is Canada’s Turner Prize, an annual prize of $50,000 for an artist under 39 who has shown in a public or commercial gallery in the previous 18 months.

The exhibition of the shortlisted artists runs from October 17 – January 7 at the Musee des Beaux Arts de Montreal.

Steven Shearer

Matthew Higgs on Shearer

Annie Pootoogook

An article on the Inuit artist

Janice Kerbel

Kerbel’s Bird Island project


Thoughts on a hanging moose

Mathew Reichertz

Sobey Art Award

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