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10 Shows We Want to See This Spring

1. “The Fifth World” at the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, from April 3 to June 7

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Tribe Inc., a Saskatoon organization that has continually fostered Aboriginal artists and their concerns, this exhibition brings together a group of emerging and mid-career Aboriginal artists whose works ring with social and political urgency. Three of the 11 artists on show—Jordan Bennett, Ursula Johnson and Sonny Assu—were recognized just last week on the 2015 Sobey Art Award longlist. The works in the show span a spectrum of approaches, from new media to traditional Indigenous practices, but all lend intrepid perspectives on contemporary struggles against capitalism and colonialism. —Amy Luo, web intern

2. Raymond Boisjoly at VOX, Montreal, from April 17 to June 27

Vancouver-based artist Raymond Boisjoly’s photo series (And) Other Echoes (2013)—which compiled the narrative course of Native American urban displacement from the 1961 film The Exiles into a durational study of social failure, cultural memory and digital technology—was one of the most elusive but also most penetrating works in last year’s Biennale de Montréal. Boisjoly is back in Montreal this spring, this time with “From age to age, as its shape slowly unravelled…,” a show of new works that tap into the mediated realities of ethnographic objects and the inherent contextual disparities of institutional culture. Working with a YouTube copy of Chris Marker, Alain Resnais and Ghislain Cloquet’s once-banned anti-colonial film Statues Also Die, Boisjoly has created a series of disrupted “stills” by capturing segments of the analog-to-digital clip via an iPhone placed screen-down on a flatbed scanner. Fixed directly to the gallery walls, the resulting images play technology against itself to create a degraded, interstitial flow designed to fracture any fixed perspectives of a representational status quo. Meaning resolves not in but between images in a critical flux that challenges the root sources and static legacies of cultural knowledge. For Boisjoly, it seems that it’s not what you see that counts, but how you see it. —Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

3. Geoffrey Farmer at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, from May 30 to September 7

It’s worth celebrating that one of Canada’s finest artists is having a survey in his hometown, and worth remembering that Geoffrey Farmer rarely does anything conventionally. And so it’s probably best not to conjecture too much about “How Do I Fit This Ghost in my Mouth?” before seeing it, its title alone suggesting the difficulty, ambivalence and indeed occasional horror of having to revisit past work. That said, having recently visited Vancouver and chatted with both the artist and his curator, Daina Augaitis, I can confirm the exhibition will be significantly site-specific, dependably idiosyncratic and, of course, not to be missed. —David Balzer, associate editor

4. “Séance Fiction” at the Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, from May 2 to July 26

According to Claire Bishop, “dialectical contemporaneity” is the next big thing. That is, the capacity of artworks and exhibitions to look to multiple temporalities to situate the present. “Séance Fiction” aims at the same thing, although its phrasing is less opaque (and who can resist that wordplay?) Hannah Doerksen, Maggie Groat, Tamar Guimarães with Kasper Akhøj, Soda_Jerk, Guy Maddin, Heather and Ivan Morison and Shana Moulton assemble in this show, acting as mediums channelling the past and future: imagining, predicting, haunting and reframing relationships to time and the present. —Alison Cooley, intern

5. Stephen Andrews at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, from April 23 to August 30

As the just-closed “Introducing Suzy Lake” triumphantly attested, one of the many pleasures of seeing a leading local artist in the AGO is the breathing room and grandeur afforded by an institutional setting. Andrews, another “photo-based artist,” deserves this as much as anyone. Kitty Scott curates this survey that, in addition to works on paper and photographs, features 21 of the artist’s large-format paintings, six of them new. Such largeness extends to Andrews’s topics and craft; few Toronto artists are as sensitive, exacting, persistent and probing. Expect to be moved. —David Balzer, associate editor

6. Wanda Koop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, from February 21 to May 21

Wanda Koop has a long history with the Winnipeg Art Gallery—the gallery first exhibited Koop’s work when she was still an art student, and in 2010 spearheaded a major retrospective of the Winnipeg-based artist. Koop returns to the gallery again with VIEW from HERE, a new series of paintings that sees her pushing how paintings can function in space. The series plays with the familiar genres of landscape and portraiture, and the hefty scale of the canvases promise a “paradoxical bodily encounter with the viewer.” —Amy Luo, web intern

7. “TH&B UNITED” at the Cotton Factory, Hamilton, April 18 to May 16, 2015

Since coming together as a group in 2008, artists Simon Frank, Ivan Jurakic, Tor Lukasik-Foss and Dave Hind—also known as the collective TH&B—have periodically filled the sprawling floors of a former cotton mill in Hamilton with an invitational exhibition of works by Rust Belt artists. It’s an idea that draws inspiration not only from the peripheral links of the now-defunct Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo railway that gave the group their name but also the burgeoning art scene that has of-late found a home in the industrial ruins of the region. The latest edition, “TH&B UNITED,” assembles 16 projects by 22 artists (Kelly Mark, Nadia Belerique, Laura Marotta, Zeke Moores and Janet Morton, among them)—in a post-industrial playground of sorts, including a sonic pyramid by Marco D’Andrea, a gothic-design skateboard half-pipe by Brandon Vickerd and a monumental shadow-play/cubic-grid pulley sculpture by TH&B themselves. —Bryne McLaughlin, managing editor

8. James Nizam at Gallery Jones, Vancouver, from April 4 to April 23

Reflective tape goes a long way in Nizam’s latest solo show as he wraps railings, doorways and other architectural details in a nighttime urban landscape and photographs the scene with flash. The wrapped fragments show up ghost white in darkened, down-at-the-heels settings. They seem to stand apart in a platonic world all their own—registering as isolations of memory, craft, design and family life in a starkly rendered arena of black and white that speaks with a sense of loss to the disappearance of a once smaller, more human-scaled city. —Richard Rhodes, editor

9. Bridget Moser at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery, Halifax, June 3 to August 16

Bridget Moser’s live performance for “Is This Thing On?” on Saturday, June 6, from 2 to 4 p.m., is not to be missed, especially if you haven’t yet seen her perform in person. The Toronto-based artist’s particular brand of performance art combines modern dance, experimental theatre, monologue, prop comedy and pop music, and has the effect of making viewers simultaneously experience Weltschmerz and snort with laughter. She works out her anxieties on stage in bizarre scenarios that intersperse confrontational outbursts directed at the universe, shopping-network style sales pitches for inane items and misguided motivational speeches with enthusiastic dance interludes. She scours bargain department stores for oddities and ubiquitous household items, such as ironing boards or novelty ocean-scene toilet seats, to guide her movements on stage. As part of a recent performance presented at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick, with a bright-yellow sponge resting on one shoulder, Moser advised, “The worst thing is to have a chip on your shoulder, and to leave it there without noticing it. Walking around with a little chip just sitting on your shoulder…maybe salt and vinegar, maybe plain, maybe ridged chip—it doesn’t matter. If that chip’s been out of the bag this long, it’s probably stale by now and not worth eating anymore, and now it’s just making you look like someone who doesn’t know how to get it together.” By pushing self-help aphorisms to the brink of meaninglessness through extrapolating from a literal interpretation, she exposes just how daft it is to grant anxious thoughts the power to govern actions. This MSVU Art Gallery exhibition, curated by Stefan Hancherow, presents a selection of videos and performance documentation, including a new video produced on-site at MSVU Art Gallery. —Rosie Prata, copy editor

10. Chris Cran at the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, from January 8 to May 9

One of the highlights of the year will be the Chris Cran retrospective opening at the Art Gallery of Alberta this fall. In the meantime, don’t miss Cran as curator in “It’s My Vault” at the McMaster Museum of Art. Cran is one of Canada’s most wily painters, inventing style after style over his career as he focuses attention on painting’s endless optical life and confounding conceptual paradoxes. He brings that range to his selection here, which pits Raoul Dufy and Louis de Niverville with Art and Language, Gerhard Richter and himself (along with others) in a show that challenges viewers to see the same connections and overlays that Cran sees in his endless appreciation and celebration of painting. —Richard Rhodes, editor

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