Sunday, May 6, 2007

Amalgam, University of Alberta BFA Grad Show 2007

There is nothing resembling an alloy or mixture of edge and otherness in the 2007 BFA group Grad show. Unfocused tangents of subject and media, self-reflexive nods of acknowledgment, and other forgettables graced the FAB Gallery walls showcasing the products of this past semester's labours. Memory came into play, predictably, but reminisces of childhood dreams and blurred memories coming from 20 year olds fail to bear much weight.
What does this show say about the group? The focus of what art could mean to them? Adam Waldon Blain's "NRMLS WLCM (22 December 2006)", a document of an early kHz night, says it all: a shoddy acrylic photo-representation of vacant stares of semi-stylish boys and girls frozen in motion, faces blank of emotion or thought, incompetence captured for a moment, unable to transfer the immediate thrill and fleeting joy, but still carries residues of contentment, a complacency in knowing that they are being seen by peers who are just as interested as being seen themselves, even if it is just based on style in void of substance.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw the show and agree it's very vacant. This begs the question, what's going on at the institutional level? Is it a result of poor intruction, an art department that's archaic and un-innovative? I'm thinking an enema might do that place some good.

simon deakin said...

There is no universal recipe for all paths. In the first place there is only the path of the individual answerable to himself. He may remain a lone traveller, or his path may become a highway. The originial is usually identical with the elementary and the latter with the simple. We can always begin over again with the ABC, we can always reconsider the elements of art, because in simplicity there is a strength in which every true innovation is rooted. Simplicity, understood as what is elementary and typical, out of which diversity and individuality evolve organically, simplicity understood as tabula rasa and a general purging of all the eclectic accessories of every style and period, must surely guarantee that path we call the future!
Oskar Schlemmer - Bauhaus theatre designer, from his diary, April 1926.

threedeeglasses said...

You missed a letter in my name.

I guess it's a little late to be talking about this now, but: If the memories of 20 year-olds are inadequate for "bear[ing] weight", what can 20-year-olds accomplish in art at all? I can appreciate that the show failed to communicate any kind of unified statement, but I don't think any of us expected it to, given the make-up of the class and the limitations of the format. I can easily accept that the limited wallspace for each idea made it hard to appreciate the value of some of the work, but extrapolating that into "style in void of substance" is a little bit of a stretch, even leaving aside the prejudicial nature of that statement and any attempts to escape its self-important aesthetic-as-taste trap.

MC said...

I'm just having a poke around the site, Amy, I hope that's ok. I thought this was an interesting post, so I thought I'd toss in my two cents (no provocations intended here!, I swear!)...

I didn't see this show, so I can't speak about it specifically from any personal experience. That being said, I think it's fair to say that BFA shows, in general, are rarely stellar, and so one should view them with an appropriate level of expectation... it is all 'student' work, after all, and as such, may have served a greater purpose as an educational excercise, rather than an ultimate statement of any artists' potential.

I think it's great that you're looking, and writing, critically about art in Edmonton, Amy. I hope you keep it up.