“UTOPIA FAC­TORY”

CON­TEM­PO­RARY CAL­GARY March 16 to July 30

Canadian Art - - Preview -

This three-part ex­hi­bi­tion looks at the role of mon­u­ments, pub­lic art and city plan­ning in de­vel­op­ing na­tional iden­tity. Here, one of the cu­ra­tors ex­plains the ideas that have in­flu­enced the shows.

NATE MCLEOD: The first com­po­nent of the ex­hi­bi­tion, “When Form Be­comes At­ti­tude,” asks about the po­lit­i­cal life of build­ings, mon­u­ments or his­toric mark­ers, to con­sider their roles in con­struct­ing cities, na­tions and ide­olo­gies— and how they can serve as ar­chi­tec­tural or ma­te­ri­al­ized de­vices of re­sis­tance, per­for­mance and sub­ver­sion. Cu­rated by Noa Bron­stein and fea­tur­ing art­works by Maria Flawia Litwin, Bear Wit­ness, Ko­tama Boua­bane, Morehshin Al­lah­yari, Chris­tian Jankowski, Is­abelle Hayeur and She­lagh Kee­ley, it re­flects on the ne­go­ti­ated in­ter­sec­tions of de­sign and power in which mon­u­ments are ma­te­ri­al­ized. These artists re­sist the kind of one-to-one, uni­di­rec­tional re­la­tion­ship that we might think mon­u­ments have to a spe­cific his­tory. In­stead, this pro­ject makes clear that mon­u­ments tell us more about con­tem­po­rary con­di­tions rather than any one his­tory. Even though the idea is to memo­ri­al­ize through mon­u­ments, these ob­jects, build­ings or sites of­ten tell us more about what we are will­ing to for­get.

In Jankowski’s Heavy Weight His­tory (2013), the artist fol­lows and films a num­ber of Pol­ish weight lifters he hired to go around War­saw at­tempt­ing— and mostly fail­ing—to lift his­toric sculp­tural mon­u­ments. He took footage of these ac­tions, then, in his pre­sen­ta­tion, mim­icked some­thing you’d see on tele­vi­sion, in a par­ody of broad­casted sports pro­gram­ming. The mon­u­ments mostly can’t be lifted, mak­ing them all the more un­set­tling.

Al­lah­yari ref­er­ences ar­ti­facts de­stroyed by ISIS in 2015 and fab­ri­cates them in 3-D printed ren­der­ings. Each of the sculp­tures in this work, Ma­te­rial Spec­u­la­tion: ISIS, con­tains a flash drive with images, maps and per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion about each ar­ti­fact and where it came from.

“Re­search Sta­tion”, the sec­ond com­po­nent, is cu­rated by Lisa Bald­is­sera and my­self, and will fea­ture ex­ist­ing and re­search-based work by Cal­gary artist Mark Clint­berg and Lon­don, UK, artist Nils Nor­man, re­spec­tively, as they each de­velop new projects for the Cen­ten­nial Plan­e­tar­ium (the fu­ture home of Con­tem­po­rary Cal­gary). The third com­po­nent, ”Ar­chi­tec­ture and Na­tional Iden­tity,” is cu­rated by ar­chi­tec­tural schol­ars Colin Ri­p­ley and Marco Polo, and looks at 21 projects that were de­vel­oped in celebration of Canada’s cen­ten­nial in 1967 (one of which is the Cen­ten­nial Plan­e­tar­ium). It will be cir­cu­lated by Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre of the Arts, and opens on May 4.

Ko­tama Boua­bane NYC, China COUR­TESY ERIN STUMP PROJECTS 2011

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