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Here Now or Nowhere

Curated by the Toronto artist Micah Lexier, “Here Now or Nowhere” took over Grande Prairie, Alberta—a natural resource–based town, population 50,000—during the dark days of winter. The 13-artist exhibition featured world premieres by the Montreal-based Adad Hannah and the Halifax-based Jan Peacock alongside older works by a group of Canadian and international artists that included Neil Goldberg, Kristan Horton and Jon Sasaki. A number of the works in the show were video-based projections that rotated among windowfronts along the town’s main drag of 100th Avenue to keep perspectives lithe for a predominantly local audience.

This is the second consecutive year in which the Prairie Art Gallery—whose main building closed due to a roof collapse in March, 2007—has mounted a temporary exhibition in Grande Prairie’s downtown public areas. The first incarnation mixed Alberta artists such as David Hoffos and John Will with a list of national and international artists that included Lexier in collaboration with Christian Bök; Lexier was asked to return to curate a second, expanded edition.

The show played largely to pedestrians, with multiple storefronts illuminating with video-based works after dusk. Full-page illustrations by a rotating roster of artists that included Erica Van Horn, Kim Moodie and Michael Dumontier were also to be found each Friday of the show’s run in the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune. Germaine Koh’s 2006 interactive work Call was situated within the local independent bookand music store, connecting callers to random local participants for anonymous conversations or voice messages over the course of the month.

The exhibition also featured Saturday-matinee screenings of Michael Klein’s short film Citizen Dandy in the town’s historic Gaiety Theatre, as well as a weekend-long remount of Kelly Mark’s Glow House.

The most captivating public works in the exhibition were Hannah’s videos, which emanated from the elongated storefront windows of the Forbes & Friends gift shop. Man in a Red Shirt and Melanie’s Dad both featured a video loop showing a man with his back to the camera holding up a full-length mirror. As your eyes adjust to the flutters of movement that fragment the videos as the mirrors sway gently, attention is drawn to the frame of the mirror within the frame of the camera, both of which bracket the interior walls of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The stillness of each man holding his own reflection within the salon-style setting of the museum compelled passersby to gaze at the act of gazing itself.

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