Sunday, October 12, 2008

Through the Looking Glass, Glenbow Museum, September 26 - November 16, 2008

Glenbow CEO Jeffrey Spalding curates this exhibition that does not hold up to its thematic title, Through the Looking Glass, but is nevertheless an impressive list of artists gathered. Beyond slipping in and out of time and space, which art through sheer existence cannot escape, the exhibit is a solid presentation of contemporary Canadian artists (many of them from Calgary) paired shoulder to shoulder with international artists--all who are currently hot on the art market circuit.

Calgary based painter Chris Cran appears next to German video artist Julian Rosefeldt, whose inverted mirror narrative slips deeper into an alternative reality of prefabricated living. Canadian Mark Lewis' ongoing investigation of movement in relation to stillness, in an evocative projection of a misty landscape that could easily double as a haunted 19th century Romantic painting. Around the corner from a distorted photographic print by Calgary sculptor Evan Penny is a video by William Kentridge. Save for the photographs of Calgary's Stampede next to Vikky Alexander's wonderment in West Edmonton Mall, the thematically disjunctive "world class" presentation of the exhibit rolls on in a seamless flow that consistently reinforced the rising stature of Calgary's cultural capital. Whether this actually breeds an appreciation of culture is beyond immediate judgement, but as I stood watching Rosefeldt's dizzying labyrinth, a nearby parent scolds his small son for saying "I don't get this," getting angry at his child's honesty, and just hoping that like his other small son, he can at least pretend to be enthused because it's important, and like his other son, try and act anxious to see and "get" the next room of art.

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