+15 WINDOW EXHIBITION
FEBRUARY 1 – MARCH 31, 2017
RECEPTION: THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2017 AT 6 PM
REFRESHMENTS TO FOLLOW AT THE PALOMINO – 109 7 Avenue SW
LOCATION – ARTS COMMONS
205 8 Avenue SE
Untitled Art Society + Stride Gallery + TRUCK Contemporary Art + The New Gallery
Tanya Lukin Linklater + Celia Perrin Sidarous
Maggie Groat + Simone Rochon
Scott Benesiinaabandan + Sanaz Mazinani
Vuk Dragojevic + Liza Eurich
Curated by Natasha Chaykowski + Alison Cooley
She once suggested to a respected, successful, and generous curator that a particular artwork be included in an exhibition alongside another. The curator dismissed the suggestion without pause: “those works are too similar, it’s too obvious” said the curator.
A Few Similar Things presents what its title suggests; it comprises four pairings of similar works, made autonomously by different artists. Mounted in vitrine spaces throughout the Arts Commons +15 pedway in Calgary, each installation is a coupling of works that in some way—aesthetically, conceptually, formally—are forthrightly alike.
Curating often prides itself on revealing the esoteric connectivity of artworks: the potential for juxtaposition to illuminate as-yet-unseen kinships, to tease out subtle thematic and formal tendencies or progressions, to build bonds between disparate objects. In this way, curatorial authority is engineered and maintained. A Few Similar Things plays critically with this impulse, questioning the relationship between power and curatorial methodologies.
In another vein, A Few Similar Things is situated in the context of a post-Internet ecology characterized by dizzying effluences of material—an environment that makes the avant-garde impulse of unique, novel creation appear impossible. How might artists faced with such a climate reckon with the act of creating? What can we understand from these similar works, made entirely independent from one another, each likely in complete ignorance of the other’s existence? How do art works become agents who operate outside of particular constraints of control, once unmoored from their artist’s hand?
Rarely are we afforded the opportunity to look at similar images alongside each other. Instead, images are contextualized within an artist’s body of work, within a movement, a style, a regional artistic dialogue—their uniqueness highlighted in variation, rather than in their particularities. In A Few Similar Things, obvious pairings of like with like open poetic confluences between works, but also trace the rhythm of their small differences. In the space of the Arts Commons +15 vitrines, these pairings might become a kind of experiment: how do we reckon with sameness? Can the foundational impulses of curating be undone or de-familiarized by gestures of obvious combination? What might aesthetic closeness lend to us for understanding each other?
MAGGIE GROAT is an interdisciplinary artist who works in a variety of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications. Her current research surrounds site-responsiveness with regards to shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, methodologies of collage, and the transformation of salvaged materials into utilitarian objects for speculation, vision and action. Groat studied visual art and philosophy at York University before attending The University of Guelph, where she received an MFA degree in 2010. She has taught at the University of Guelph, the University of Toronto and at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she was the Audain Artist Scholar in Residence in 2014. In 2015 she was nominated for the Sobey Art Award. Recently, her work has been included in exhibitions at Mercer Union, YYZ Artists’s Outlet, Art Gallery of York University (Toronto), Western Front, SFU Audain Gallery (Vancouver) Rodman Hall Art Centre (St. Catharines) and Walter Philips Gallery (Banff). She lives on the southern shore of Lake Ontario on the traditional territory of Haudenosaunee and Attawandaron First Nations.
SIMONE ROCHON holds a Masters in Visual and Media Arts (UQAM). Rochon’s practice is based mostly in collage, drawing and sculpture. Her work has been shown recently at the Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges (2016), at Galerie Nicolas Robert (2015) and at the FOFA Gallery (2015) in Montreal. Her work can be found in a number of private and public collections, including the Collection Desjardins d’œuvres d’art, the Prêt d’œuvres d’art collection of the MNBAQ, the Ville de Montréal and Loto-Québec collections. Rochon is represented by Galerie Nicolas Robert in Montreal.
ALISON COOLEY is a critic, curator, and educator based in Toronto. Her research deals with the intersection of natural history and visual culture, socially engaged artistic practice, and experiential and interpretative dimensions of art criticism. She is the 2014 recipient of the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators, and her writing has been published in Canadian Art, C Magazine, FUSE, Blackflash and Magenta, among others. She is currently the Curatorial Assistant and Collections Archivist at the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga.
NATASHA CHAYKOWSKI is a Calgary-based curator, writer, and researcher. She holds and MA in Art History from York University, and is the co-recipient of the 2014 Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators. Chaykowski was editorial assistant for the Journal of Curatorial Studies, editorial resident at Canadian Art Magazine and Curatorial Research Practicum at Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre. Her writing has been published in Carbon Paper, esse: arts + opinions, momus, Canadian Art, and the Journal of Curatorial Studies, among others. Currently, she is Director of Untitled Art Society in Calgary.
Image credit: L: Simone Rochon, Le plein du vide no.3 (2015-2016) R: Maggie Groat, Proposal for a Monument (2013)