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News in Brief: A New Space for Indigenous Art

Plus: a new Canadian auction house, drama at the AGO, Melanie Joly's culture policy under fire, Rodney Graham inspires a line of coats and more

Our editors’ weekly roundup of art news.

NSCAD University has created a new space for Indigenous curatorial projects. On October 2, Mi’kmaq elder Freeman Douglas Knockwood performed a smudging ceremony at the new Treaty Space Gallery at NSCAD’s Port Campus.  The gallery has been developed as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, with a “curatorial initiative that aims to activate local and national Indigenous histories and contemporary lived experiences as well as to advance more thorough understandings of treaties in the Nova Scotian and Canadian contexts.” Beginning in summer 2017, Indigenous students Carrie Allison Goodfellow, Brandon Hollohan and Glenn Knockwood researched “responses to treaty and the ways treaty education spaces have been used on university campuses.” The trio developed the space’s framework under the guidance of associate professor of art history Carla Taunton and the school’s Anna Leonowens Gallery. (press release)

A new Canadian auction house called ByDealers has launched. The first live auction for ByDealers will take place November 6 in Montreal, and a preview of works for that auction will be on view at Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel during the Art Toronto fair October 28 to 30. ByDealers is a partnership with (for this auction) more than 15 Canadian art dealers. Among them are Toronto dealers Canadian Fine Arts, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Gallery Gevik and Christopher Cutts Gallery and Montreal dealers Galerie Yves Laroche, Lacerte Art Contemporain and Han Art Gallery. Lots in the auction include works by Jean Paul Riopelle, Joan Mitchell, Jack Bush, Rita Letendre, Paterson Ewen and Kim Dorland. (Canadian Art)

The RCMP has agreed to release Louis Riel’s personal possessions to a Métis heritage centre in Winnipeg. The crucifix, poetry book and hunting knife that once belonged to Riel have been in the possession of the RCMP for more than 50 years. The Toronto Star reports that “RCMP deputy commissioner Kevin Brosseau and Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand signed a memorandum of understanding …that will see the items transferred to a Métis heritage centre in Winnipeg, once it is built.” (Toronto Star)

A former Art Gallery of Ontario curator has penned a public essay about why he resigned. Andrew Hunter, who was the Fredrik S. Eaton curator of Canadian art at the AGO until he resigned last month, writes, “My choice rests in a disappointment: not in what we achieved, but the fragility of its ability to persist. As I leave, I worry about an institution wavering in its commitment to make space for new voices—voices traditionally excluded from senior roles at public cultural institutions in Canada.” Hunter notes the history of systemic exclusion at all public art galleries, and adds: “When I look at the AGO and so many of its peers, I see an institution guided not by public participation, but by the generic, elite consensus that rules the global art market, which sees product over public good.” The director of the AGO, Stephan Jostwhen asked by Canadian Press for comment, said that he still had hope for the institution, and that it was making strides towards inclusion. (Toronto Star, Globe and Mail/Canadian Press)

The Art Gallery of Ontario has also renamed its Canadian art department to the department of Canadian and Indigenous art, and appointed two curators. Georgiana Uhlyarik, who has been a member of the gallery’s curatorial department since 2004, will be the Fredrik S. Eaton curator of Canadian art, the position held by Andrew Hunter from February 2013 until his resignation last month. Uhlyarik most recently held the position of associate curator of Canadian art, with a specialty in women artists of the Americas, and curated the AGO’s Georgia O’Keeffe, Rita Letendre and Suzy Lake exhibitions. Wanda Nanibush most recently held the position of assistant curator of Canadian and Indigenous art, in which she’s worked since July 2016. She has been promoted to the newly created position of curator of Indigenous art. Nanibush curated the AGO’s recent exhibition “Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971–1989,” and is working on a solo exhibition of Rebecca Belmore set to open in 2018. (press release)

Criticism is building against Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly’s new culture plan, Creative Canada. The Globe reports Joly was grilled about the policy live on Radio-Canada this weekend, and that “Quebec Culture Minister Luc Fortin… vowed that if Ottawa failed to make Netflix apply the GST to its subscriptions, the province would chase the company for the provincial levy.” Writing in the Walrus, Ira Wells argues: “The real issue is that Creative Canada profoundly misunderstands the place of art and culture in our society…Leonard Cohen’s poetry would not have been deepened by his participation in a creativity hub. (His idea of a creativity hub was a Buddhist monastery.) Margaret Atwood—whose Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace have been adapted into celebrated examples of streamed entertainment—did not write her novels to satisfy the metrics that determine the content of streamed entertainment. To tie Canadian culture to the analytic outputs of media platforms, to enlist it in cause of economic productivity, is to ask art to renounce its status as art and to assume the function of evangelism.” (Globe and Mail, Walrus)

A seven-metre-tall sculpture by Dali is coming to Montreal’s Little Burgundy neighbourhood—and it’s for sale. According to the CBC Montreal, “A big bronze pachyderm topped with a golden pyramid will soon travel from Quebec City to Montreal where it will take up residence in Little Burgundy for the next two years.” Dali made the seven-metre-tall Space Elephant in 1980, when he was in his 70s. Though the sculpture will be installed in a city park, Parc des Meubliers, it is actually owned by a Swiss collector who is looking to sell it through Montreal dealer Sylvain Fortier of Galerie Griffintown. (Current price: $3.6 million.) The sculpture is being installed in the Montreal park at no cost to the city. (CBC Montreal)

The world’s largest festival of Indigenous film and media art has announced its lineup. At a press conference earlier this week, Toronto’s imagineNATIVE festival released its full program for its October 18 to 22 run. Among the highlights: celebrating 30 years of Inuit video art with a world premiere screening of Bowhead Whale Hunting with My Ancestors by Carol Kunnuk and Zacharias Kunuk—the first episode from the seven-part television series, Hunting with my Ancestors. Elsewhere, imagineNATIVE’s Art Crawl will feature works by Raven Chacon, Adrian Stimson and Skawennati among others. And the first all-Indigenous edition of A Wall is a Screen, a nighttime event that is part-walking-tour and part-film-screening, is also on the schedule. (press release)

A collection of Islamic art never seen in North America is coming to Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum. Among these objects will be monumental marble reliefs, never before shown abroad, from the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo. “The World of the Fatimids,” the related exhibition upcoming at the museum, aims to bear witness to the dynasty that built the world’s oldest university, “compiled one of its greatest libraries, defined luxury fashion for a millennium, and fostered a flowering of the arts and sciences in the 10th and 11th centuries.” The show will open on March 10, 2018, and run to July 2, 2018. (press release)

The Ontario Premier’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts has announced its 18 finalists. The winning artist receives $35,000 and selects a new or emerging artist, who receives $15,000. The winning arts organization is awarded $50,000. The remaining finalists in both categories each receive $2,000. Some finalists: artists Kent Monkman and d’bi young anitafrika, who selected emerging artist finalists Brian Rideout and Sashoya Simpson, respectively. (press release)

Fogo Island Arts is expecting a visit from the 2018 recipients of the ars viva Prize for Visual Arts. The residency on Fogo Island as part of a special partnership, now in its second year, with Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e. V. (Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries). The ars viva Prize is awarded annually to young artists living in Germany whose work is distinguished by a high level of artistic quality and a contemporary outlook. This year, the jury selected 14 finalists from 57 nominated artists. The winners of the 2018 ars viva Prize are Anna-Sophie Berger (1989), Oscar Enberg (1988) and Zac Langdon-Pole (1988). Their residencies at Fogo are likely to take place in 2018.

Rodney Graham has inspired a Swiss fashion designer’s latest collection. Albert Kriemler, creative director of Swiss fashion house Akris, went to Vancouver artist Graham’s latest exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Zurich. There, he saw Graham’s lightbox Coat Puller. And then, he put images of Graham pulling on a coat onto—what else?—his own line of coats for Fall-Winter 2017. (With the artist’s permission, of course.) (artnet news)

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