60 Years of Designing the Ballet @ The Design Exchange

August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Nutcracker Wardrobe Crate

Focusing largely on the Canadian National Ballet’s past productions of The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, the Design Exchange’s, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet, is a must-see for theatre and dance lovers alike. With only one full weekend left to catch the exhibition, which displays costumes, set items and sketches from six decades of Canadian ballet tradition; time is running thin.  However, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is certainly worth the trip as it more than delivers on its promise to provide a comprehensive look into the National Ballet’s backstage story and design process.  Through combining the three-dimensional facets of the stage (i.e. sets, costumes and maquettes) with typical gallery elements, some of which include, video footage, photographs and an interactive station that teaches you standard dance poses, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet aptly documents the humble beginnings of the National Ballet company as well as its critically acclaimed performances of today. While Caroline O’Brien, the curator of the exhibit, did place her focus on commissioning archived costume pieces, she did also make sure that 60 Years of Designing the Ballet was in part dedicated to the art form’s laborious and intricate design production processes. In this vein, the inclusion of ballet “bibles”, a vital stage document that is filled with sketches, scale drawings, inspirations and fabric swatches, offered up a fascinating look into the grueling process of putting on a show, rather than solely the glamorous end product. 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is also paired with a smaller retrospective and community-outreach venture, The Tutu Project.

60 Years of Designing the Ballet run until September 2.


Emnowaangosjig: Coming Out @ the Toronto Free Gallery

June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Adrian Stimson

The Anishnaabe term “emnowaangosjig”, is a literal translation of the process of opening up, exposing one’s true self or actively coming out.  In keeping with its title, the Toronto Free Gallery’s current exhibition, Emnowaangosjig: Coming Out, The Shifting and Multiple Self, specifically highlights issues of individuality within the aboriginal community. This group show consists of nine artists; connected through the fact that they are all of aboriginal ancestry and are all practicing homosexual artists or queer theorists. Each artist individually examines the notion of “hierarchical identity”, wherein personal traits are either revered or reviled based on socio-political and cultural contexts. The space of the “Other”, a concept related to the ways that individuals or groups define their existence via a position of difference, is yet another theme examined in Emnowaangosjig: Coming Out. Adrian Stimson’s digital print series “Buffalo Boy’s Born Again” (2002) stems from a performance work of the same name and directly confronts Stimson’s self identification as “Other”. In so doing, the sequence of prints all place Stimson himself, who is dressed in drag, within historically and socially dominant narratives, i.e. the Bible and classic children’s fables.

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Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography @ Gallery 44

May 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Abbas Kowsari

As it seems, a good portion of this year’s CONTACT programming directs it’s focus on the concept of national character. More specifically, Iranian identity is one particular thematic strand that links quite a few of the CONTACT 2012 exhibitions. Gallery 44’s Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography is but one of the expositions that either hone in on Iranian nationalist paradigms or aim to showcase the country’s vibrant art scene. Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography features the work of Samira Eskandarfar, Amirali Ghasemi, Abbas Kowsari, Zeinab Salarvand, Arman Stepanian and Sadegh Tirafkan; seven Iranian born artists whose work presents a broad perspective on art in the Middle East but is still united through social circumstance and the photographic medium.

Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography, curated by Andrea Fitzpatrick, deliberately elaborates on the more typical artistic representations of Iranian culture, i.e. issues pertaining to the feminine sphere, the positioning of women in the social hierarchy and the notion of veiling. Two of Gallery 44’s stand out photographic series present altogether different outlooks on Iranian identity by capturing the lives of everyday, secular men. Abbas Kowsari’s “Masculinity Series” offers up a very specific window on the activities of male bodybuilders. The series of photos employs oversaturated colouring as well as dramatic lighting in order to further emphasize the staged nature of the contest at hand. Sadegh Tirafkan also looks to examine Iranian masculine identity as he uses his camera to capture the world of amateur wrestling. Set against white backgrounds and positioned in elaborate, Mannerist-like poses, Tirafkan’s work calls attention to the sitters’ bare bodies as well as their awareness of the fact that they have an audience. Within these photographs, the men wear traditional national costuming – a choice that highlights the geographical setting and, according to Tirafkan, provides “a subtle questioning of tradition and what this heroic masculinity means in a very patriarchal society.”

Sadegh Tirafkan

Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography showcases both contemporary male and female artists who are actively documenting their surroundings and seeking to reveal true national subjects.

Gender and Exposure in Contemporary Iranian Photography runs until June 9, 2012

– Stella Melchiori

Opening: Sovereign Acts at Justin M. Barnicke

April 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

2012 Curatorial Studies Thesis Exhibition: Sovereign Acts

Curated by Wanda Nanibush.

The history of Indigenous Peoples performing cultural dances and practices for international and colonial audiences is an important part of Indigenous art generally, and performance art specifically. The Indigenous performers known as ‘Indians’ faced the conundrum of maintaining traditional cultural practices by performing them on stage while also having that performance fulfill the desires of a colonial imaginary. In Sovereign Acts, the artists Rebecca Belmore, Lori Blondeau, Robert Houle, Terrance Houle, Shelley Niro, Adrian Stimson, and Jeff Thomas, contend with the legacy of colonial representations. Drawing on the depiction of the imaginary Indian – the ahistorical, pre-contact ‘primitivism’ in popular and mass culture – they recover and construct new ways of performing the complexity of Indigenous cultures for a contemporary art audience. Their work returns to the multi-levelled history of ‘Performing Indian’ to recuperate the erased and objectified performer as an ancestor, an artist, and an Indigenous subject.

This exhibition is produced as part of the requirements for the MVS degree in Curatorial Studies at the University of Toronto.

The show runs at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery from April 18 – May 27, 2012.

There will be an opening reception on Wednesday April 18, from 7:00-9:00 PM.

A.centric Artist Profile: Beth MacDonald

March 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Welcome to the A.centric artist profile. This time around, we are pleased to have Beth MacDonald. She is currently studying film theory at UofT and her work has been popping up in galleries around town since last year. Beth was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

When did you start taking photographs and why?

Photography has been a part of my life longer than I can remember. Photography as an approach to art, on the other hand, began later — possibly in high school — once I started learning about the subject, and becoming more conscious of what I was taking photographs of, how, and why. Actually, to be honest, sometimes I still don’t know why I capture what I do. The ‘why’ factor is often not my driving photographic force, the ‘why’, more often than not, comes later. The concepts that have become the most rewarding upon their completion begin with some sort of unprecedented fascination, lacking that ‘why’ factor. « Read the rest of this entry »

Gallery Openings for the Week of March 5.

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Matt Behan, "In the Quiet of the Dark"

Here is a list of some of the new shows on display in Toronto this week.

The Le Gallery is showing some new paintings by Matt Bahen of barren landscapes, destroyed interiors and roving dogs. The show runs from March 2-31.

Loop Gallery is hosting the works of Yael Brotman and Tara Cooper. From March 3-25.

Olga Korper is currently showing the sculptures of Marianne Lovink until March 28. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Cerebral Arena at Xpace.

March 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Currently displayed in the Main Space of Xpace Cultural Centre’s three exhibition areas are the video-based projects of three OCADU students: Brianna Lowe, Lauren Pelc-McArthur and Graham Ruddy. Entitled Cerebral Arena, this collaborative exhibit transforms our common understanding of digital media and foregrounds its beauty and the artistic potential. « Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Unfamiliar Territories at the Lonsdale Gallery.

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Lonsdale Gallery, situated in the lovely neighbourhood of Forest Hill, has imaginatively put together a multi-artist exhibit, entitled, Unfamiliar Territories. Featuring photography-based works by Osheen Harruthoonyan and Joan Kaufman, sculpture by Jim Hake and printed silk hangings by Sally Ayre, the exhibit brings together a theme of storytelling that lets the viewer’s imagination run wild. « Read the rest of this entry »

Gallery Openings for the Week of February 27.

February 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Fiona Crangle

Here is a list of some of the new shows on display in Toronto this week.

The Angell Gallery is showing works by three eclectic artists. Daniel Hutchinson, Josh Schwebel and Renée Duval are all on display from February 23-March 24.

Centre Space is showing Adad Hannah‘s new works exploring his fascination with Rodin. From February 24-March 31.

The Department is hosting a group show, “Leap Year: Woman King Collective,” from February 27-March 10. « Read the rest of this entry »

Gallery Openings for the Week of February 6-10.

February 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here are a few shows opening this week in Toronto.

Tasman Richardson and Daisuke Takeya are both opening new shows featuring some large work at the MOCCA. From February 4-April 1.

Painter Maria Gabankova and video/print artist Libby Hague are showing at the Loop Gallery. From February 4 – February 26.

Quebec artists David Gillanders, Mathieu Lévesque and Max Wyse are showing sculptures and paintings at P|M Gallery from February 4 – March 17.

Barbara Edwards Contemporary is presenting work from the estate of abstract expressionist painter, Jack Tworkov, best known as a founding member of the New York School. The show runs from February 10-April 7.

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