Canadian Art

See It

Conceptual Filiations: Village of the Grahamed

Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal May 3 to Jun 14 2008
Damian Moppett  “Conceptual Filiations”  2008  Installation view   Courtesy of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery  /  photo Paul Smith  Damian Moppett “Conceptual Filiations” 2008 Installation view Courtesy of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery / photo Paul Smith

Damian Moppett “Conceptual Filiations” 2008 Installation view Courtesy of the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery / photo Paul Smith

Remakes, revisits and restagings have been the predominant curatorial theme this year in exhibitions across the country. From DHC-ART Foundation’s spectacular group show “Re-Enactments” to the Power Plant’s upcoming summer exhibition “Not Quite How I Remember It,” artists have been looking back to historical documents and iconic artworks as source material to be interpreted and improvised upon. In “Conceptual Filiations,” a new show at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, a group of contemporary artists riff on the evolving legacy of conceptualism to harness its critical effectiveness in a new era.

The exhibition features plenty of faithful recreations of famous conceptualist pieces, including Sophie Bélair Clément’s remake of Michael Snow’s film See You Later. While Snow’s original used the mechanical power of camera and projector to slow a 30-second scene down to a 17-minute viewing time, Clément uses her own body to recreate the scene in real time, taking on the central role in slow motion. Thérèse Mastroiacovo likewise reinvests renowned artworks with physical labour by painstakingly copying (down to caption and page number) the historical documentation of works by conceptual superstars like Sol LeWitt and Dan Graham.

The references to conceptualism in other works are more oblique. Daniel Olson’s Rubber Balls video, for instance, shows the artist carefully dismantling one ball of elastic bands in order to create a new one. The task is ultimately futile—the video ends with the same scenario with which it opened—but its determined eccentricity references the late video artist David Askevold, whose early work frequently featured the artist performing idiosyncratic tasks in front of a stationary camera.

Works by Damian Moppett, Pavel Pavlov, Charles Stankievech and Chih-Chien Wang complete the show, rethinking the current role of what curator Michèle Thériault calls the “indisputable criticality at the heart of conceptual art.” (1400 boul de Maisonneuve O, Montreal QC)

This article was first published online on May 15, 2008.


  • KRAZY!: Going Ga-Ga for Comics and Animation

    You don’t have to be a Lichtenstein, Petitbon or Huyghe to know that comics, cartoons and anime provide ample fodder for contemporary artmaking. But are these dime-store mags and virtual-world videos art themselves? “KRAZY!” is a new blockbuster show which attempts to make the case that yes, by Jiminy Cricket, they are.

  • David Burdeny: Diminishing Shelf Life

    In his exhibition “Greenland/Antarctica,” Vancouver-based photographer David Burdeny turns his camera on the precarious situation of polar ice caps in an age of rapid climate change. The result—images of impressive architectonic ice—form one of the best exhibitions of the 2008 CONTACT festival.

  • Cindy Baker: Examining the To-do over Ta-da

    There are surprising similarities between art and magic. Artists are, after all, conjurors of sorts, empowering static materials and media with new forms and meanings. Saskatoon artist Cindy Baker explores these and other art-magic parallels in “Gimmick,” an exhibition reworking magic shop props.



[an error occurred while processing this directive]


  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Black Birds

    New York critic Joseph R. Wolin heads to the Park Avenue Armory where Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are creating a buzz (and other sounds) at the US premiere of a dark, nightmarish installation originally created for the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.

  • Grange Prize 2012: Hot Shots

    One of Canada’s largest cash-value art prizes—$65,000 in total with $50,000 going to the winner, $5,000 to three runners-up—announced its finalists this week. Take in their wide-ranging works in this slideshow.

  • Wanda Koop: Into the Woods

    A visit to Wanda Koop’s cabin near Riding Mountain National Park in southern Manitoba proves intriguing for Vancouver critic Robin Laurence. There, Laurence writes, Koop bridges old Grey Owl myths with a new series of paintings on our increasingly digital culture.

  • Brad Tinmouth: Survival Strategies

    The basement of an art gallery may seem an unlikely place to create an emergency shelter. However, Xpace's lower gallery is an ideal setting for Brad Tinmouth's “If Times Get Tough or Even If They Don't,” which evokes a cold-war bunker.

  • Wim Delvoye: Blame it on Paris

    Silk-covered pigs, lattice-cut car tires and a tattooed man are just a few of the works that Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has shuttled into the old, Gothic wing of the Louvre this summer. Jill Glessing reviews, finding a terrific amalgam of high and low.

More Online

Report a problem