Massimo Guerrera, installation detail of Darboral (Ici, maintenant avec l’impermanence de nos restes), 2000, La Biennale de Montréal, 2000.
Mowry Baden, The Light that Separates Night from Day, 2003, Stainless steel, plastic, aluminum, 262 x 450 x 567 cm, Courtesy Diaz Contemporary, Toronto, Collection of the Artist.
Rebecca Belmore, Installation view of Architecture For A Colonial Landscape, 2006, Multi-media installation at aceart Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Rodney Latourelle, installation detail from In the absence of unambiguous criteria, 2007, Program, Berlin.
National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
Caught in the Act:
The Viewer as Performer
October 17, 2008-February 15, 2009
Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer is a dynamic, experimental and above all, experiential exhibition that gives viewers the chance to become active participants in the artistic process, and engage directly with projects created by 11 Canadian artists and collectives: Mowry Baden, Rebecca Belmore, BGL, Max Dean & Raffaello D’Andrea, Geoffrey Farmer, Massimo Guerrera, Glen Johnson, Rodney LaTourelle, Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins, Kent Monkman & Jana Sterbak.
Their sculptures, immersive environments and installations encourage an active exchange between viewers, the gallery space and the work of art — an interaction that is in fact as significant as the artworks themselves. By promoting these new types of relationships, the artists all share the same goal: to implicate the audience in new and exciting ways. They seek to surprise us, to challenge us, and to show us how meaning is shaped through collaboration.
Organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer is the largest contemporary art exhibition to be mounted at the National Gallery in close to a decade.
Mowry Baden has influenced a generation of sculptors in Canada and the U.S. with his engaging, participatory installations. For almost 40 years, he has challenged contemporary sculpture through a staggering number of projects and artworks that borrow from psychology, architecture and performance. Born in Los Angeles in 1936, Baden received his BA from Pomona College (Claremont, CA) and MA from Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA). After teaching at Stanford and the University of British Columbia, among others, Baden began his tenure at the University of Victoria in 1975; he is currently professor emeritus. He has had solo and group exhibitions across North America, including Los Angeles, Mexico City, Montreal, Vancouver and New York (including MoMA). His work is represented in collections in Canada and the U.S. He has been commissioned to create public art works in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Pittsburgh, Washington and Victoria, where he now lives.
Born in Upsala, Ontario, Rebecca Belmore is an artist currently living in Vancouver, British Columbia. She attended the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and is internationally recognized for her performance and installation art. Since 1987, her multi-disciplinary work has addressed history, place and identity through the media of sculpture, installation, video and performance. Belmore was Canada's official representative at the 2005 Venice Biennale. Her work has appeared in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally including two solo touring exhibitions, The Named and the Unnamed, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver (2002); and 33 Pieces, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto at Mississauga (2001).
Her group exhibitions include Houseguests, Art Gallery of Ontario (2001); Longing and Belonging: From the Faraway Nearby, SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1995); Land, Spirit, Power, National Gallery of Canada (1992); and Creation or Death: We Will Win, at the Havana Biennial, Havana Cuba (1991).
BGL is comprised of Jasmin Bilodeau (b. 1973, resides Quebec City, Sébastien Giguère (b. 1972, resides Quebec City), and Nicolas Laverdière (b. 1972, resides, Quebec City). BGL was created while the trio were studying at Laval University. For over 10 years, they have exhibited widely and frequently both in solo and group exhibitions including The 1er Bienal del fin del mundo, Ushuaia, Argentina, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Musée d’art moderne Lille Métropole, France, Mercer Union, Toronto, Hart House, University of Toronto, The Havana Biennale, Cuba and The Montreal Biennale. They have been recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts, The Conseil des arts et letters du Québec and were finalists for the Sobey Award. Their work is found in the collections of The Musée National des beaux-arts du Québec, The Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and The National Gallery of Canada.
Known for cheeky, critical and explosive works, BGL create self-referential in-situ installations that take over architecture and encompass a gallery’s context. The resulting artworks speak directly to contemporary culture and the nostalgia of memory.
From artful creations at the Venice Biennale to ‘intelligent’ warehouses for distribution giants like Staples and Walgreens, Raffaello D’Andrea’s work has captured the imagination of researchers, gallery-goers and business leaders around the world.
Developed over years of research at the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University and now ETH Zurich, D’Andrea’s work has been widely published in top academic journals, and has earned him such diverse accolades as a United States Presidential Early Career Award for Science & Engineering and a place in the permanent art collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
D’Andrea equates his achievement with his commitment to scientific and mathematical rigor, and his desire to collaborate with innovators in other fields.
Max Dean was born in Leeds, England in 1949, and received a B.A. in art history from the University of British Columbia in 1971. Since then he has had a prolific career as a performance, video and installation artist, producing work that actively questions and explores the relationships between the artist, the spectator and the work of art. He has employed a diversity of materials from traditional drawing tools to cars, found objects, bathtubs, and television monitors as well as new technologies to explore issues pertaining to the psychological and metaphorical aspects of interactivity.
He has exhibited widely — both alone and in over twenty group exhibitions – beginning with Pacific Vibrations at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1973 - and internationally — in England, Germany, and twice at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and in 2001 for The Table: Childhood now in the Gallery’s collection. He taught at the University of Ottawa (1979-88), and later at York University. From 1985-86, he was artist in residence at the National Museum of Science and Technology, Ottawa, and in 1996, he received the Jean Chalmers National Visual Arts Award.
Geoffrey Farmer is based in Vancouver and continues the tradition established by Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham and Jeff Wall, who have all developed international practices whilst remaining based in the city of Vancouver.
Farmer is known for producing large-scale eclectic works that are characterised by their interpretive structures, meticulous research and transformative qualities. Specific literary or cinematic narratives anchor the projects, which are continually revised, altered and adapted from exhibition to exhibition. These specific narratives become the conceptual engine and are used to generate and contextualize the processes and materials produced, acquired and presented.
In Québec, Massimo Guerrera is the pioneer of what is termed “relational esthetics”, i.e. art in which meeting with the Other becomes not simply a subject to portray but rather a genuine material to implement. Based on the notion that we are overridingly beings shaped by our relationships, he uses food as the main metaphor to implement this idea of constant change and digestion where certain people are concerned.
Rodney Latourelle (b. 1965, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Lives and works in Berlin, Germany) is a graduate landscape architect and writer who — in his most recent work — has crossed over from landscape design into the realm of art. Based in Winnipeg, LaTourelle has discovered a spatial/artistic hybrid. He has transcended the experiments of Judd, by providing for the full immersion of body in coloured light — a walk-in painting. LaTourelle's experiments are transitional — they bridge the gap between art and architecture. His prototypes suggest endless possibilities for spatial and metaphysical life.
Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins live and work in Toronto, Ontario. They work collaboratively in the field of large format sculpture, mixed media, installation and electronic art.
Jennifer and Daniel are known for their ability to creatively produce refined multimedia installations that are well-crafted, intricate and large scale. They have a diverse vocabulary that employs industrial and non-traditional materials. Engagement with the viewer is a primary focus for them and is initiated through the strong physical presence of their work.
Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2001. Prior to that, Jennifer received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario and Daniel received a BA in Art History from McGill University.
Born in St. Marys, Ontario, Kent Monkman, an artist of Cree ancestry, works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance and installation. He has had solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Walter Phillips Gallery, and the Indian Art Centre, and has participated in various international group exhibitions including: "We come in peace..." Histories of the Americas, at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal, and The American West , at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire, England. Monkman has created site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and at Compton Verney, UK, and has also made super 8 mm versions of these performances that he calls "Colonial Art Space Interventions".
His award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, and the Toronto International Film Festival. His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, The Mackenzie Art Gallery, the Woodland Cultural Centre, the Indian Art Centre, and the Canada Council Art Bank. A solo exhibition of his work was mounted by the Art Gallery of Hamilton in the summer of 2007 and will tour to museums across Canada including Art Gallery of Victoria, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Jana Sterbak (born 1955) is best known for her works constructed from meat. Two sculptures, Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic (1987) and Chair Apollinaire (1999), were both works whose primary medium was cured flank steak also known as "skirt steak".
Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Sterbak immigrated as a teenager with her parents to Edmonton, Alberta in 1968. Then to Vancouver in 1970 at Kitsilano High School. A year at University of British Columbia in 1974 was followed by a transfer to Montreal. She acquired her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1977 at Montréal's Concordia University, Her MFA at University of Toronto in 1982.
Sterbak's works deal primarily with issues of power, sexuality, and control, and she also explores the relationship between humanity and the technology it has created. Her Standard Lives - Abridged was displayed in the center of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in September-October 1990.
Jana Sterbak, I Want You to Feel the Way I Do... (The Dress), 1984-1985, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © NGC.