Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tonight, tomorrow night

Opening tonight at 6pm and running until the 21st of June at MKG127: Some Dogs and Boats and Airplanes by Bill Burns, which includes a series of photographs, some watercolours and "possibly be the largest collection of dog and boat and airplane salt and pepper shakers of its kind in the world." For more information, visit www.mkg127.com.

Opening tomorrow night (the website doesn't say, but it's usually early) is Mushroom Studio by Katie Bethune-Leaman. "Mushroom Studio draws from many references, including California’s “programmatic” buildings, popular during the first half of the twentieth-century, wherein roadside diners and concessions were created in the shape of whimsical figures—restaurants shaped like puppies, creameries in the form of icebergs adorned with polar bears. This tradition continues with large-scale versions of mundane objects created as tourist attractions, including Vegreville, Alberta’s giant Easter egg, or Colborne, Ontario’s Big Apple bakery. Patently whimsical, there is also a melancholy to these structures and their builder’s efforts to create something mystical in their midst, hoping to beguile, amuse, and attract." For more info: http://www.torontosculpturegarden.com/currentexhibit.htm.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hello Goodbye

Posts here will continue to be sporadic over the summer as I am leaving Mercer Union, and Elaine, Jon and Aileen will have their hands full with the gallery relocation. Renovations are currently in progress at the new location at Bloor and Lansdowne, a beautiful building that originally housed a cinema. The fall season will open at the new space with exhibitions by Gwen MacGregor and Sandra Rechico (curated by Dan Adler) and Sylvia Matas, followed by an exhibition of work by Kenneth Goldsmith and Christof Migone.

I will be leaving to concentrate on my own practice, beginning with a three month stint at the Glenfiddich residency in Scotland. It was a painfully difficult decision to leave and there will be much that I will miss about Mercer (EG, JS, AB in particular). A friend of mine who I haven't seen in over a decade (he moved out west) periodically checks in here and concluded (after seeing the Michel de Broin Shared Propulsion Car footage, I think) that I have "the best job in the world". In many ways he is right. Those interested in taking over should apply before June 16th. Here's the job posting. Please circulate widely:

Job Posting: Director of Exhibitions and Publications
> Mercer Union, A Centre for Contemporary Art
> Mercer Union is a leading artist-run centre dedicated to contemporary art in Canada. Established in 1979 as a not-for-profit organization, the gallery supports engaging art and curatorial practices that consider contemporary conceptual and aesthetic debates. Showcasing local, national and international artists, Mercer’s twelve annual gallery exhibitions are complimented by critically engaged public programming activities that include lectures, screenings, performances, publications, special projects and events.
> As the Director of Exhibitions and Publications, the successful candidate will utilize their experience and initiative to collaborate with the Director of Public Programs and Development—with the support of Mercer’s Board of Directors—to guide the organization's exhibition programming vision. This will involve the implementation and coordination of the exhibition programme and related projects, overseeing the production of publications, and assisting with fundraising initiatives, grant writing, and new marketing initiatives. In August 2008 Mercer Union will venture into exciting territory by moving to a new gallery location with expanded facilities in Toronto’s Bloor and Lansdowne neighborhood. The Director of Exhibitions and Publications will play a central role in facilitating this organizational transition.
> The successful candidate will possess:
> -An MA, MFA or equivalent experience in art history, visual culture, curatorial studies, or fine arts
> -A minimum of 3 years experience in a non-profit art gallery or equivalent
> -A solid knowledge of Canadian and international contemporary art
> -Experience managing budgets and grant writing
> -Supervisory experience
> -Strong verbal and written communications skills
> -Excellent interpersonal skills
> -Macintosh computer skills, including Quark, Filemaker Pro, Illustrator, Excel, Word
> -Fluency in both official languages, written and verbal considered an asset
> Responsibilities include:
> -Managing the coordination of exhibitions, including coordination of submission review process, generating curatorial proposals, negotiating and managing all contracts, budgets, and preparing exhibition receptions
> -Communicating with exhibiting artists in the development of exhibitions, including coordinating shipping, travel, insurance and equipment needs, and overseeing exhibition installation
> -Coordinating all publicity including writing press releases, preparing press packages, liaising with the media, managing press and mailing databases and actively raising the profile of the Gallery locally and internationally
> -Coordinating all marketing, negotiating all advertising contracts, and designing advertisements
> -Managing publication coordination including brochures, distribution, catalogue exchange, documentation and the gallery website and archive
> -Overseeing maintenance of the gallery space and equipment
> -Organizing Ontario Arts Council Exhibition Assistance grant reviews
> -Participating in developing and setting financial, operational and outreach priorities in collaboration with the Director of Public Programs and Development and the Board
> -Participating in creating and monitoring the business plan, in collaboration with the Director of Public Programs and Development and the Board
> -Working with the Director of Public Programs and Development on all operational, employment, foundation, and sponsorship grant applications, and preparing programming project-related grant applications and sponsorship packages
> -Managing support staff and volunteers with the Director of Public Programs and Development
> -Attending all Board meetings and Committee meetings as required, preparing programming reports for the Board
> -Acting as a spokesperson for the organization to government, funding agencies, the media, and the public
> Interested candidates are requested to submit a resume, cover letter, and three writing samples by 5PM on Monday 16 June, 2008 via email apply@mercerunion.org to the attention of the Search Committee.
> No phone calls please. Only successful candidates will be contacted. Mercer Union is an equal opportunity employer.
> Mercer Union, A Centre for Contemporary Art
> 37 Lisgar Street, Toronto ON M6J 3T3 CANADA
> Posted 21 May, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg, RIP

Robert Rauschenberg died today at the age of eighty-two.

Turner Prize

The Turner Prize nominations were announced today, and include Runa Islam, Mark Leckey, Goshka Macuga, and Cathy Wilkes. Mark Leckey exhibited at Mercer Union in 2004, in a solo exhibition curated by Jenifer Papararo. Past winners of the prestigious prize (valued at approx $80 000) include Jeremy Deller, Martin Creed, Gilbert and George, Anish Kapoor, Gillian Wearing, Damien Hirst, and Chris Ofili.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Sobey Award

The Sobey Award nominations were announced today, and are as follows:

WEST COAST AND YUKON: Althea Thauberger; Tim Lee; Scott McFarland; Mark Soo; Kevin Schmidt.

PRAIRIES AND THE NORTH: Daniel Barrow; Paul Butler; Theo Sims; KC Adams; Terrance Houle.

ONTARIO: Kristan Horton; Luis Jacob; Terence Koh; H. Lan Thao Lam; Kelly Richardson.

QUÉBEC: Mathieu Beauséjour; BGL; Raphaëlle de Groot; Adad Hannah; Carlos and Jason Sanchez.

ATLANTIC: Andrea Mortson; Tonia Di Risio; Craig Francis Power; Mario Doucette; Craig Leonard.

Previous winners include Michel de Broin, Annie Pootoogook, Jean Pierre Gauthier, and Brian Jungen. The prize has a cash value of $50 000.

Stutter and Twitch

Stutter and Twitch, curated by Chen Tamir, opens tonight at the JM Barnicke Gallery from 5 to 7pm. The show features Mercer Union board member Kristan Horton, Yael Bartana , Johanna Billing , David Claerbout, Nancy Davenport, Adad Hannah, Kristan Horton, and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy.

From the press release:

Dwelling on the unattainable desire for stasis and halting change, the
artists' works seek to avoid the trauma and stress that change may
generate. With frozen or barely animated images, many of the works
hang in a limbo between stillness and motion. They push boundaries of
form between video, film, and photography, examining stasis and paused
situations from the point of view of social and metaphoric meanings.
Their interrupted cinema frustrates the viewer's expectation of linear

Rather than approaching frustration as negative, Stutter and Twitch
presents the condition of stasis as an arena of possibility. The works
in the exhibition focus on the pause by arresting development and
halting a system in flux. They expose the foundations on which the
structure relies. They challenge the expectation of time, linearity
and continuity when their elements are jarred to a stop.

The show runs thru to the end of June. For more information, visit www.jmbgallery.ca.

1 Guy 1 Can

The 57 year-old man behind the internet sensation 2 Girls 1 Cup (in which a pair of women shit and puke in a cup and take turns eating it) is planning to defend himself against obscenity charges in the US by claiming he is a fine artist, and invoking the name of Piero Manzoni and Marcel Duchamp. Here's an excerpt:

What do you mean by "shock art films"?
You talk about art? What is art? Art is what artists do. If it shocks you, it's art. One of the things art should do is make you think and question things. Shock art has always been something that has been a very popular thing through the 20th century and the 21st century. People used feces as shock art. There was a guy who shit in a can and sold it for the price of gold. [In 1961, Italian conceptual artist Piero Manzoni canned his feces in 90 tins and sold them for the price of their weight in gold.] So, the Internet allowed me to be an artist, to reach a lot of people. It allowed me to be on the edge, to do what I would never do as a fine artist. If you're going to paint, you've got to compete with Picasso. If you want to write a great classical music piece, you're competing with Mozart. I would never write anything like Kafka's The Trial. If I was going to make a mark, I was going to do it in some extreme shock way.

2 Girls 1 Cup has been viewed by millions and a few months ago Youtube was flooded with 'response' videos, where viewers were secretly recorded watching the clip, recoiling in horror.

The full interview with Ira Isaacs is here.