Friday, June 29, 2007
Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art June 23 - September 9, 2007
Image courtesy of Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary: Mark Mullin, Absorption Rates II, 2007.
As it goes again, the structure of the biennial is far more interesting than the art represented, which when summarized, does not consistently capture the implied themes of "Utopia or Disaster," but maybe in the larger context, frames how art is viewed in Alberta.
There are strong works and artists represented: Mark Mullin of Calgary grounds his colour texture chaos with lines of solid circular tones, creating works that are visually stimulating in a very modern colour palette, and are far more impressive in person than in print; Jonathan Kaiser continues his estranging installations of suburban isolation, a very young artist with only a small handful of alternative group shows behind him.
There are also less strong works such as the multicoloured panel of rave photography or the computer/time counter that maybe belongs more as novelty than function in the lobby of a science centre than in the middle of any art biennial.
Heralded as an institutional showcase for Alberta artists, the AGA must be more clear as to what, who, and why they are curating these shows. To use the model of a biennial, is somewhat both precocious for Alberta, and in many ways, archaic and typical of Alberta. If the Alberta art scene is to gain national attention, arguably the raison d'etre of the biennial, and to market itself successfully, we need to first identify ourselves before we try to sell ourselves.