You often hear the saying you will be judged by the company you keep. It’s generally understood that if you hang out with foul-mouthed Marion on the playground, or gossipy Gertrude at the bridge table, or trouble-making Morgan at the local watering hole, people will see you in the same light.
It’s the same idea behind group shows. A curator puts forward an idea that connects artworks by different artists, and the viewer connects with the idea while experiencing the work. The original meanings of the artworks mingle and cavort and you may see works in a totally different way.
Peripheral Influence is a group show that has this kind of effect. The exhibition is a product of an exchange between AKA artist-run and Schleifmühlgasse 12-14, a gallery in Vienna, Austria. The first incarnation of this partnership took place just over a year ago with AKA executive director Tarin Hughes curating an exhibition in the Viennese gallery. For the Canadian portion of the swap Denise Parizek of Schleifmühlgasse 12-14 takes the curatorial reins.
To experience all of Peripheral Influence you have to cross the river as it takes place in two gallery spaces: AKA on 20th and the Kenderdine Art Gallery on campus at the University of Saskatchewan.
Parizek’s concept for the show is the Butterfly Effect theory, which she defines as “a concept in which small causes can have large effects.” She executes this idea in a clever way. In the Kenderdine all but one artist is from Saskatoon. In AKA all but one is Viennese. The outsider’s work seeps into the way you see the rest of the show. She’s also is talking about the project itself — a small event like an exchange between two seemingly unrelated galleries can influence an artist’s work and it can change the way the community sees collaboration — there are any number of ripples that could cause larger effects down the road.
The work in the Kenderdine is familiar. I recognize all of the local artists’ work. The foreign artist is Franz Wassermann.
Wassermann’s Heldenplatz Anarchy is a video of a performance. Fifty people carry red flags with white circles based on the Nazi design. The swastika is replaced by names of global corporations. The parade takes place in a public square in Austria. A drum beats in the video as the people march.
Franz Wassermann’s video of a performance Heldenplatz Anarchy. FRANZ WASSERMANN
The rhythm of Wassermann’s video and his work’s anarchist theme is in my ear and colouring my vision as I view the rest of the work in the space. Clint Neufeld’s Ascension, a replica outboard boat motor made of ceramic, is a work I see on its own as an examination of a life in a province where going to the lake means more than visiting a body of water. In close proximity to Heldenplatz Anarchy, Ascension becomes a protest to the unnatural ways we experience nature. The work doesn’t loose its original meaning, it’s just influenced for the time being by the company it keeps.
Saskatoon artist Laura St. Pierre is the only artist to show in both galleries and her works are the most stunning of the show.
Exchanges like the one between these two galleries can be transformative for everyone involved, and I hope it’s only the first ripple.
Three to see
Between by David Stonhouse; An exhibition of work by Eli Bornstein Darrell Bell Gallery, both shows run until June 5. Two artists — one emerging and one established — in the same gallery. It’s Borstein’s structurist reliefs and Stonhouse’s abstract paintings that explore texture, colour and pattern with gonzo flaire. A combination that makes sense in a weird, satisfying kind of way.
Olivia by Brandi Hoffer Rouge Gallery, runs through June. Hoffer’s paintings are reminiscent of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gustav Klimt and Tony Sherman, but the Lloydminster artist’s work is distinctly her own style.
Mnemonic (Re) Manifestations by Barry Ace Wanuskewin Galleries, runs to June. Wanuskewin hosts another great show in Ace’s exhibition. His work utilizes “many traditional forms and motifs. He then disrupts the reading of these works with the introduction of other elements, endeavouring to create a convergence of the historical and the contemporary,” according to the news release.