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Features / June 1, 1986

Ghost Lustres: Michael Snow at Expo 86

Michael Snow is one of the most recognized artists in Canada. One of the very few Canadians to have exhibited at the prestigious Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and to have works in the collection of the no less prestigious Museum of Modern Art in New York, he has also shown in most Canadian museums. His work has won him an enviable reputation in the art world and his films have been praised as classics of avant-garde and contemporary cinema. As a musician, he has performed extensively both in Canada and abroad. Having built this solid reputation on the national and international art scene, Snow has also charmed the masses with his flock of Canada geese on permanent display at the Eaton Centre, one of the most frequented tourist and shopping spots in Toronto. And even this work, with its popular appeal, still displays the rigour and intelligence that characterize the impressive body of work Snow has produced since the second half of the ‘50s. This summer in Vancouver, on the Expo 86 site, Michael Snow is unveiling a series of ambitious new works. And once again, millions of people will enjoy Snow’s creations (the only official contemporary art presence on the grounds of the fair), many of them not even suspecting that they are experiencing a work of art.

Entitled The Spectral Image and located in a former locomotive repair hangar known as the Round House (one of the few original structures on the Expo site), this exhibition brings together some 48 holographic images, grouped into a dozen installation pieces. A didactic explanation of the holographic medium is mounted on panels near the entrance ot the building, but aside from a brief artist’s statement, there are basically no paintings on the walls, no arty-looking objects. Very simply, Expo-goers will find a series of etched holographic plates—some hanging in specific groupings, others contained within sculptural forms—in a 929-square-metre space inundated with exquisite light and monochrome sound.

So begins the cover story from our Summer 1986 issue. To keep reading, view a PDF of the entire article.